They live and work on top of the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC of all places. Around 360.000 of them. Last week I was invited to assist at the honey harvest on the 20th floor of one of Manhattan´s landmarks, a roof-to-table initiative by the 5-star hotel on Park Avenue. The much needed bees are the VIP guests of its rooftop.
The bees checked into their 6 hives in april this year and have since then produced 125lbs of “Top of the Waldorf” Rooftop Honey. It was director of culinary, Chef David Garcelon´s idea to keep bees on the roof terrace. When he saw that the roof top was perfect for beekeeping, he got together with NYC´s “bee guy”, Andrew Cote, a third-generation beekeeper and founder of Bees Without Borders.
On the sunny thursday morning last week, surrounded by Midtown´s stunning views, we were handed our beekeeper suits and veils, and, soon afterwards David and Andrew opened up the hives and took us into the fascinating world of bees.
The panels that were full with honey were taken down into the kitchen where the honey was extracted. I am not even going to try to describe the taste of fresh honey but lets just say that everyone´s taste buds were in for a real treat! Not least because chef Garcelon also dished out some canapes he created to use the rooftop honey. You can imagine that fresh figs, cheese and honey is not a bad combination!
You probably don´t think of an eco-hotel when you think of the elegant, Art Deco
masterpiece Waldorf Astoria Hotel, but thanks to chef Garcelon the kitchen is taking its farm-to-table (even roof-to-table) lemma very seriously. A roof garden is in the works, neatly laid out along the beehives, to grow vegetables and herbs. Guests can even ask for a visit and a number of rooms can enjoy views of the hives. Eventually the hotel hopes to harvest 600lbs of honey or more per year. The cuisine at the Waldorf Astoria could certainly not be more local than this, and the bees help increase pollination in the city.