The patron saint of bees is usually ascribed to either Saint Ambrose or Saint Valentine, but St. Ermin could claim that title, if the hotel’s colony of 200,000 Buckfast bees is anything to go by.
When Colin Farquharson, the property manager at St. Ermin’s first suggested the idea of keeping bees at the hotel, little did this keen apiarist realise that his passion for bees would be so contagious, inspiring guests, staff and journalists alike. Colin, who has always appreciated the benefits bees can bring to the environment, originally placed three hives on the roof in May 2011, these first hives were home to 90,000 plus Buckfast bees, a breed that is well known for its good temper. Now, the Saint Ermin’s colony has grown to approximately 200,000 bees, with the three new hives located on a carefully placed vantage point, that allows guests and staff a safe, close up view of the hard working bees, from within the hotel itself.
Colin comments, “London has long been known as an excellent location for honey bees, as there is such a wide and rich source of flora in close proximity, offering a great variety of pollen and nectar. However with all the green space on the hotel’s doorstep, our bees have richer pickings than many other of their London cousins – it seems it’s not just our guests who enjoy our proximity to St. James’s Park.” Colin is also working alongside the hotel’s gardeners to ensure that the courtyard is planted with specimens that actively attract bees such as lavenders, poppies, perennial verbenas to name but a few. Three of the hives sit within a “green” roof area completely given over to the planting of wild flowers
It is all this pollen and nectar within a three-mile radius that gives the St. Ermin’s honey such a distinct and delicious flavour – which has not gone unnoticed in the hotel’s kitchens. To celebrate the overwhelming success of the bees, St. Ermin’s Hotel is dedicating the month of September to them, and the hotel’s honey will be making a star appearance on many of the hotel’s menus. Guests will be invited to sip on honey-inspired cocktails, indulge in a honey afternoon tea, or treat themselves to a honey-infused dish from the Caxton Grill menu.
As part of the hotel’s honey month, they are also partnering with the charity Sustain to hold a screening and a live extraction of honey followed by delicious freshly baked scones to sample the flavour of the St. Ermin’s honey first hand. Alongside this, the Caxton Grill will be provided with seasonal ingredients by local allotment plots to create dishes of the day from a selection of vegetables and salad items to use alongside the honey.
It seems that Colin’s love of bees and how they can benefit the environment and the hotel’s guests through honey’s health giving properties, is only set to grow and grow. So on second thoughts, maybe it should be Saint Colin, patron saint of bees.