Alright, that was a lame title, but an apt one given the subject of this post. For years now I’ve been dreaming of the lapis lazuli colored shores and sky of Caneel Bay in the Virgin Islands National Park on St. John Island. After the in-laws visited this eco-resort (the Caribbean’s first of its kind) many years ago and returned with reports of the seclusion and beauty, I’ve had this spot on my to visit list.
Now Caneel Bay returns to me via an Audubon Magazine article about global hotels that are attempting ecological sustainability by launching their own bee keeping operations. Global honeybee populations have dramatically declined in the past decade, confounding scientists who are frantically trying to uncover the reasons for the colony collapses (known as CCD, or Colony Collapse Disorder). As bees pollinate a majority of the world’s crops, their existence is critical to maintaining food supplies for this overpopulated planet. The reason for the bee decline, scientists note, is likely due to a number of factors including the use of pesticides (more reason to eat organic!), air pollution (which explains why China’s bee populations have majorly dwindled in recent years), habitat degradation (yet again, more reason to stick to the replacement rate), and potentially even cell phone use.
In St. John, Caneel Bay’s bee keeping plans are extensive and make use of existing hives that the property owners found in the hotel’s eaves and relocated to what is now the resident apiary. Caneel Bay uses the produced honey for spa treatments and in the restaurant and bar’s many creations. The article reports that large chain hotels, such as Boston’s InterContinental and Chicago’s Marriott, are even starting their own rooftop hives (hotels use the honey produced in their food and cocktails while also helping to increase the world’s dwindling honeybee population). Urban bee keeping is also on the rise, especially now that New York City has rescinded its ban on beekeeping and the White House kitchen garden even has its own hive.
While this is certainly a necessary step toward sustainability, here’s to hoping more urban properties and residents will take to rooftop gardening as well, such as suggested in this China Daily article on greening Beijing’s concrete cityscape. In the meantime, consider joining your local Backyard Beekeepers Association, potentially at the expense of alienating some friends and neighbors.