By Julie Fidler
One hive starting with 10,000 bees grew to 70,000
Marshall is a beekeeper at the Fairmont San Francisco, the first hotel in the city to install a bee sanctuary. At first, he thought the sanctuaries were just “good PR,” but now his rooftop hives produce 1,000 pounds of honey every year.
Fairmont sought Marshall’s help in 2010 with a goal of rebuilding the bee population. The flying insects pollinate $15 billion in crops in the U.S. annually. Yeah, a lot of food depends on bees and pollination.
Said Melissa Farrar, Fairmont’s marketing director:
“When I started almost 50 years ago, if I lost two or three percent of my bees a year, that was like, ‘What’s going on?’ Now you lose 50, 60 percent. And it’s not sustainable.”
The Clift Hotel in the city’s Union Square installed its bee sanctuary last May, with 1 queen and 10,000 bees. The sanctuary should fill with 70,000 bees, and that number is expected to grow to 800,000 by early 2017.
Michael Pace, general manager at the Clift, said he wanted to do his part, however small, to increase sustainability and get the bee population back on its feet. He told Hoodline that people frequently ask, “Is there enough greenery? Is there enough pollen?” Pace responds to those questions this way:
“You’d be surprised.”
Even in a sprawling city like San Francisco, honeybees still manage to find gardens and trees, often returning to the same places daily.
The hotels – which also include Holiday Inn and Express Fisherman’s Wharf, Omni San Francisco, W San Francisco, and Hotel Zetta – don’t let any of the precious honey go to waste.
The Fairmont’s Bee Sustainable Program – with more than 20 participating hotels around the world – uses honey in everything from food to spa treatments. The Fairmont brews its own honey beer, with plans to release a new honey ale soon.
Honey also goes into some of the Clift’s signature dishes, such as its compressed watermelon salad, and chef Thomas Weibull’s pintxo platter.
Pace says the hives produce about 70 gallons of honey annually. 
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