Daryl West, general manager of the Coast Bastion Hotel, shows four of six hives that are housing the hotel’s new guests – 60,000 New Zealand honeybees. The hotel is hosting the honeybees as part of a larger efforts around environmental stewardship. TAMARA CUNNINGHAM/News Bulletin

60,000 bees check in at Nanaimo hotel

Coast Bastion Hotel has six rooftop hives

A Nanaimo hotel is offering hospitality to honeybees.

Sixty thousand New Zealand honeybees checked into the Coast Bastion Hotel on Monday, where they’ve taken up residence in six rooftop hives.

They are working guests, expected to produce honey and help pollinate gardens in downtown Nanaimo, and are owned and cared for by long-time Cedar beekeeper Theo Fredrich.

It’s not the first hotel in this province to offer space to bees. Fredrich, for example, is also the beekeeper for the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, but the Coast Bastion is believed to be the first hotel in this city to house honeybees and the first in the Coast chain.

According to Ken McPhee, chief engineer for the hotel, it’s part of a larger effort toward sustainability that’s seen the hotel plant an herb garden and put occupancy sensors in every room to control climate. Now it has honeybees, which he says is more of a community engagement effort and about being stewards of the environment and good neighbours. It’s also about the bees, said McPhee, who notes everyone is starting to realize how important they are for the ecosystem.

“It’s not every day you get 60,000 new guests at a hotel, but I am pretty excited to have these guys here and I hope it leads to a lot more visitors of the same kind,” he said.

Daryl West, general manager for the Coast Hotel, is “petrified” of bees and hadn’t been up to the second-floor roof to greet the new guests before Wednesday. But his reaction, when the idea was first proposed about having winged guests, was “why not?”

“We want to be good environmental stewards, we want to work with the local community,” said West who also points out the hotel is starting up a green committee and the bees line up with that. “Historically hotels aren’t very good at being great to the environment. This is one small way for us to give back.”

The honeybees are in one-storey hives along the second-floor roof, but McPhee anticipates they’ll reproduce right away and over a year that their numbers will be 10-20 times what they are today.

Fredrich, with Fredrich’s Honey in Cedar, will harvest the honey that the hotel can then purchase. For the beekeeper, this is a retirement project and all about pollination.

“If we can have bees right in the city for pollination we do an awful lot of help to the people with their gardens and fruit trees and vegetables and so forth,” he said.



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