TRACE restaurant at the W Hotel has started a first of its kind apiary – a bee yard – in Austin. And not just in any location, the rooftop. I got an exclusive look at the hives 39 floors above the hotel.
From the moment I stepped onto the rooftop, I knew this was a bad idea. One, I’m deathly afraid of heights, and two, I’m even more afraid of bees. A bee landed on my lens as I stepped closer to the boxes to get a close-up shot. I’m tempted to flick it off but resist to avoid angering a million bees. The bee rescue owner Walter Schumacher notes my nervousness and coaxes me to stand in the middle of the apiary.
Bees can sense fear. Stay calm and just be the tree, he tells me.
So where did these bees come from? The bees were once agitated Africanized bees that were tamed by the non-profile Central Texas Bee Rescue.
We have to work with the bees for a year to where they pose no threat, said Central Texas Bee Rescue owner Walter Schumacher.
The apiary features 10 boxes for the bees to live and cultivate the honeycomb in. Between the 10 boxes there is somewhere between one million and two million bees.
The bees are fed from a bucket filled with a smoothie-like mixture of organic fruit – berries, citrus and melons. This is a nature sugar source instead of refined sugar water used by many beekeepers.
The honey these bees produce will be used in the hotel’s bar and restaurant in speciality cocktails, desserts and appetizers.
My idea is to give our guests a taste of Austin, says W’s forager (food and beverage manager) Valerie Broussard.
The bees are expected to produce 100 pounds to 200 pounds a year. Some of the honey will be used in a milk-and-honey spa treatment. Small jars of honey will be offered in the mini-bars in rooms, as well. Candice Betz, director of W Hotel’s Away Spa is enthusiastic about incorporating the honey into spa treatments.
Honey is anti-microbial, antioxidant, and a humectant (moisture retainer). And this honey is as local as you can get.
Charcuterie board from TRACE made with honey and freshly harvested honeycomb from the apiary. Meyer Lemon budino made with apiary honey on the right.
Bee-list party at the W Hotel
When: 6:30pm June 13, 2013
Where: Trace restaurant patio and porch
What: Free party open to the public. Samples of W Austin cocktails and food featuring honey from the apiary will be available. Guests are encouraged to wear black and yellow.