Empress Hotel Welcomes 400,000 Bees to their Centennial Garden

left: four of the new beehives in the garden, right: an Empress employee dressed up as a bee handed out samples of honey collected at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hives.


Victoria, BC – The Fairmont Empress has been privileged to welcome kings and queens, but this queen’s arrival was a first. The Fairmont Empress was pleased to welcome the Queen Bee and 400,000 honeybees on May 26, 2011. The bees now reside in the Centennial Garden of The Fairmont Empress and will pollinate Victoria’s most lavish hotel gardens. In total, ten hives of the European race of Italian and Carniolan bees will produce over 1,000 pounds of honey which will be featured in the hotel’s restaurants, including world-renowned Afternoon Tea service. By the end of the season in mid August, the beehives will have increased to 800,000 honeybees.

The hives are provided by apiarist, John Gibeau, of the Honeybee Centre in Surrey, BC, who has managed beehives at Vancouver’s Fairmont hotels. John states honeybees are gentle by nature, and vegetarians who find their forage within a 3 kilometre radius of their hives. The Italian and Carniolan race of honeybees have been in North America for over 250 years. An unfortunate cycle of devastation of untraced illness has greatly reduced the number of all honeybees throughout British Columbia for the past few years. Gibeau is hopeful this cycle of illness is coming to an end, particularly with the sustainable approach like The Fairmont Empress’ onsite beehives.

The mastermind behind the honeybees is the hotel’s new Executive Chef, Kamal Silva, who initiated the honeybees at The Fairmont Vancouver Airport. “We are absolutely thrilled to support sustainable living in our community and Chef takes this to the next level with the honeybees”, says Martin Leclerc, General Manager. The Fairmont Empress is a pioneer on sustainable practices throughout the property including a farm to fork approach of bringing the best of Vancouver Island’s bounty into its restaurants; designated Victoria’s first Five Green Key hotel; and a participating partner of sustainable seafood with Ocean Wise.


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