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A queen bee makes her home at the Warwick hotel

Honeycomb
Honeycomb
Wikipedia

The Warwick Hotel in Denver added some exciting new guests to their hotel this May; their very own hive of bees will reside on the rooftop of the hotel.

The worker bees and their queen arrived Saturday, May 3. A second round of bees landed Saturday, May 10. The second shipment of bees contains nucs, which are partially established hives. The first set of bees is busy building honeycomb from scratch. The second group has already been busy buzzing away. Their honey will be ready for Executive Chef and designated caretaker to the bees, Jesper Jonsson, to harvest much sooner than the first hive.

The bee program at the Warwick will provide honey for cooking and cocktails for everything from their citrus honey-marinated sous vide salmon, honey balsamic dressing, desserts, and their signature cocktails and house-made bitters.

Why did the Warwick choose to nurture their own bees? There are a few reasons. Raw, unpasteurized honey tastes nothing like what you buy at the grocery store in the little golden bears. Raw honey is honey that has not been heated. Pasteurized honey, like you find in the golden bears, is highly processed to stabilize and lengthen the shelf life and to improve the look and appearance. It’s been argued that raw, unpasteurized honey is healthier than pasteurized, processed honey. While heating and filtering of the honey during pasteurization, many of the nutrients may be lost.

Raw honey is expensive! It’s easy to keep the cost of honey down when you simply walk onto the roof and harvest from your own hive. Colorado chefs are fantastic at sourcing local ingredients. Chef Jesper is no exception. He likes to buy local as much as possible. It doesn't get more local than harvesting your own ingredients at the restaurant, even in downtown Denver.

Beehives are amazing! They are truly one of nature’s most efficient, organized, and productive creatures. Every hive has a single queen. She’s large and in charge. The queen, shaped like a dark peanut, is about twice the size of the worker bees and drones. She lays all the eggs for the hive, up to 2,000 per day, at the rate of which her worker bees are dying. Except for the queen, the average bee has about a six week lifespan. She’s continuously replenishing her workforce by laying eggs. All the queen’s eggs are laid as the same type – kind of like a blank canvas. Once laid, she then gives instructions to the other bees on what to feed the eggs. What the egg is fed determines if they eventually become a worker, drone, or on rare occasion, a queen.

Bees are what make the world go ‘round! Well at least the world of food. Without bees to pollinate, ecosystems all over the world would begin to breakdown. Mint, sage, thyme, chamomile, marjoram, oregano, rosemary, licorice, parsley, ginger, turmeric, cilantro, basil, chives, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon, balm, bay leaf, caraway, black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, fenugreek, anise, nutmeg, and mustard seed all require help from bees to pollinate. Without bees carrots, beans, turnips, broccoli, bok choy, leeks, onions, artichokes, arugula, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, melons, squash, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, asparagus, cauliflower, celery, kale, salad greens, and berries would all require hand-pollination. Without bees the world may still go ‘round, but it wouldn't be as colorful and tasty as we know it!

Stop by Randolph’s restaurant in the Warwick Hotel and try one of the recipes using honey. It’ll change your mind on what you think of the queen bee and her honey.