Calgary

Fairmont offers sustainable bee hotels across Canada

The Fairmont hotel chain uses reclaimed and reused twigs, vines and logs to create rest areas and egg laying opportunities for bees. A bee butler provides room service to ensure guests are comfortable and rested up to pollinate.

Areas help insects rest their wings and lay eggs, as well as encourage pollination

Michael King is clad in his white tuxedo meant to mirror traditional bee keeper outfits. He is technically the manager of safety and loss prevention at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel in Vancouver, but over the last few years he has also become the official 'bee butler.' King takes guests on tours of the new pollinator hotels, as well as the previously existing honey hives. (CBC/Margaret Gallagher)

Tired bees can rest their wings and lay eggs in new bee hotels, complete with bee butlers and room service, thanks to a sustainability initiative at Fairmont hotels in Canada.

The luxury hotel chain is replicating forested and natural habitats for the bee rooms, using twigs, logs and other reclaimed materials. The rooms are aimed at the vast majority of pollinators — about 95 per cent of 825 species — which are different from honeybees, according to Fairmont.

Bee butlers are "specifically trained to take care of our bees and have everything they need, including room service. In some cases we line our bee hotels with sheep skin for comfy places to rest their wings," said Alexandra Blum, VP of global public relations and partnerships at Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

At risk

The bees are smaller than honey bees and don't have a colony or queen bee to protect them, but they're responsible for almost $2 billion worth of agricultural impact in terms of pollinating power, says Blum. They're at risk and losing their nests because of urbanization, she says.

Fairmont has created six pollinator bee hotels across Canada, including one at the Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. In Calgary, bees are housed away from the Palliser at the University of Calgary.

Occupancy rate

So far, the bees are checking in and using the hotels as intended.

"We had hatchings this year of new pollinators bees that basically grew up and were born in our bee hotels. At any given time we have 30 pollinator bees," said Blum.

Two-legged guests of the hotels are encouraged to visit the bee hotels, as well. They can interact with the bee butlers and chefs who tend to gardens and honey beehives on hotel rooftops.

"They are providing sanctuaries and we hope quality of life enhancement for these very athletic and unsung heroes of our ecosystems, the solitary pollinator bees," said Blum.

The hotel chain invests in specific sustainability programs, such as the bee hotels, because its guests encourage them, and also because they help to educate Canadians about the role bees play in self-sustaining cities.

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