The Westin Annapolis along with Azure Restaurant are proud recipients of the "Annapolis Environmental Stewardship Certification". This prestigious award acknowledges the dedication our hotel has made to protecting, improving, and enhancing the quality of the Annapolis environment.
Recognizing the importance of sustaining our environment, The Westin Annapolis has installed a rooftop honey bee beehive which is expecting to host 35,000 honey bees which will help support the downtown Annapolis area.
In addition to creating a haven for a globally depleted honey bee population, the cause of which is as yet unknown, the hotel also plans to harvest the honey produced by the bees.
"Bees are one of nature's most industrious workers, not only by making delicious honey, but by helping to pollinate and sustain much of the planet's plant population, too," said James Barrett, hotel chef. "My father introduced me to the hobby of apiculture some 30 years ago, and I've since become somewhat of an avid apiarist myself. As he told me then, ‘Bees have been around forever, and if you sit back long enough and watch them, they will teach you.'"
Recent studies show that farms that are pollinated by bees produce on average 50 percent more crops. According to the USDA, between 2005 and 2007, honey bee populations were in serious and mysterious decline, creating a 40 to 60 percent negative impact on crops that cost the U.S. more than $15 billion last year. Since then, there has been a major effort to repopulate the honey bee universe, which is the most docile of the bee varieties. To date, bee colonies are still down 20 percent.
The two hives, made of ponderosa pine wood, are approximately two feet tall and will vary in size depending on the time of year. In the late fall and winter, the hives are made up of two chambers to house the insects, but in spring and summer multiple boxes, or supers, will be added for honey production. The hives are located on Annapolis Green hotel's second story rooftop, visible to all guest rooms that face the front of the hotel. The hive area is covered with rocks to create a Zen-like rock garden feel. Each hive is expected to produce up to 60 pounds of honey annually.
Chef Barrett plans to use the honey in a wide variety of signature dishes, including honey lacquered hot smoked salmon. He already is working on new specialty dishes, such as old bay honey cashew brittle, to make further use of the sweet crop.
"Once it is harvested, we plan to make the honey a signature item," Barrett noted. "We'll use it in everything from daily food specials to an extra special, leave-behind for sales calls in special 2-ounce jars embossed with the hotel logo and a honey bee."
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