When I hear bees being characterised as clumsy after coming back from their first flight – filled up with nectar. When they miss the hive entry falling to the ground seemingly drunk. We arrived at Biene Maja’s home, no wait I mean Novotel Suites Vienna City Danube Hotel.
Sometimes, I feel as restless as a bee might be while working. I need to discover places and since I studied tourism I love analysing hotels and getting to know their projects, this is the story of one of them:
Bees make honey – but how?
City bees are clever creatures. Imagine how they fly above our heads and find their way around skyscrapers! They even communicate with each other through a so-called waggle dance. When performing this dance, that resembles the figure eight when looked at from up above, they give each other directions to flowers and other sources of nectar. Doing this, they look like teenage girls trying to move their hips to a pop song for the first time – I must say, it’s kinda cute (as seen in the documentation: ’More Than Honey’).
At Novotel Suites Vienna City Danube Hotel bees are welcomed with curiosity and an open heart. I was lucky to be part at the hotel’s first honey collection! Three bee hives are located in a small garden. The beekeeper tends to them on a regular basis and makes sure the bees are happy and healthy. Curious visitors get the chance to come closer and have a look.
Interesting fact: A bee queen can be found in every hive. She mates with multiple drones (not from her home colony, of course) and stores the sperm. The male bees or drones die in that process. The ‘queen bee’ lays approximately 2.000 eggs a day. Imagine you would have to do that. Especially on Mondays.
My experience with bee hives & honey
I was there, I was part and I was a little bit scared, I must admit. I have respect towards bees. When a bee stings, it hurts. I didn’t need to have that experience at that time. And since we went to the bee hives without any safety nets, I kept my distance when the honeycombs were taken out of the hive. I was told they can feel my emotions, kind of like a dog can. And being scared isn’t the vibe I should be sending. The bees were relaxed on that day though! Lucky us, nobody got stung at that time.
Afterwards we went inside and I opened up the combs by taking down the beeswax. It looks easy when a beekeeper does it, using a tool similar to a hair comb/fork mixture. Of course – without being an experienced beeswax-remover, I had some kind of clumsy experience.
After I was done, the whole honeycomb went into a spinning machine. The honey was spun out of it manually. Golden liquid was dripping down. Icouldn’t hold myself back and a finger was full of sticky honey before I knew it. It was great. Sweet and melting on my tongue.
The dangers of dying bees
Albert Einstein once said ‘If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.’, or did he?
Bees have many natural and also some human-made enemies. Pestizides (worst are the Neonicotinoids), malnutrition due to monocultures and the verroa-mite are killing bees. Therefore, their existence is threatened! Bees pollinate approximately 75% of our cultivated plants – no more bees – no more fruit and vegetable plants! It’s kind of scary to consider that, isn’t it?!
The raw material of tourism
Novotel Suites Vienna City Danube Hotel takes care of bees. Why, you may wonder. The Accor Group, where this hotel is part of, created a sustainability programme called Planet 21. They set up 21 commitments that hotels may choose to declare for their houses.
One of these commitments is biodiversity, where they fight against the extinction of endangered species, such as swordfish, sharks and now bees. A lot of development is going on, that we as guests can be part of. For details and more commitments you may want to check out this website.
I want to thank the Accor Group and especially Novotel Suites Vienna City Danube Hotel for their spontaneous invitation. If you are interested to find out more about the beekeeper and how to become a parent of a bee hive – have a look here (German only).