Bees. While many fear their presence, it’s the absence of bees that should be of the greatest concern. There are 1,200 crop varieties that provide 80 per cent of human food worldwide, and 1,000 of those crops rely on the pollination of bees to survive. Without bees, our ecosystem would die, and humans would cease to exist. Due mostly to climate change and the use of insecticides, the bee population is declining at a rapid rate, and it’s become more important than ever for us to do what we can to save them.
From beekeeping benefactors, to mead makers, to celebrated chefs, B.C. is buzzing with creators who have developed charitable programs and culinary offerings that are focused on the importance of pollination, providing us with easy (and edible) ways to help the bee population flourish. Here’s where you can sip and savour drinks and dishes in Vancouver, Sooke, and Whistler that rely on bee pollination to be planted, prepped, and plated.
Give Bees A Chance (Vancouver)
A special menu at the Fairmont Waterfront highlights the power of pollinators.
Tucked between the Vancouver Convention Centre and Canada Place, you’ll find the Bee and Bee Pollinator Hotel, a hidden rooftop haven and apiary located on the 2,100 square foot rooftop garden of the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.
Maintained by Julia Common, a seasoned beekeeper with nearly 40 years of experience, and co-founder of Hives for Humanity (a social enterprise that not only maintains beehives to keep the bee population thriving, but that also provides jobs and education for at-risk residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside) the apiary has become a much-needed habitat for our indigenous wild bees.
The Fairmont Waterfront was the first hotel to harvest bees in B.C. (the project began in 2008), and now, in partnership with Hives for Humanity, the hotel offers educational hive tours for hotel guests, available everyday at 2 p.m. from May to September. In addition, the Give Bees A Chance three-course feature menu at the hotel’s ARC restaurant that showcases the power of the pollinators, incorporating fresh ingredients that rely on the bees to survive. The halibut plated with ricotta gnudi, pickled hakurei, turnips, peas, carrot and ginger purée, along with grapefruit beurre blanc, is a mouth-watering way to save the bees while savouring the fruits of their labour.
Sip and Save the Bees (Sooke)
Drink like the dignified at Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery.
Situated in the seaside town of Sooke, Tugwell Creek Honey Farm & Meadery is the ideal spot to sip on the ancient libation while learning about the life of bees.
Mead, made of fermented honey, is the original alcohol, first consumed by Vikings thousands of years ago. At Tugwell you can get an up-close look at how mead is made on the 12-acre farm. With Bob Liptrot at the helm, an entomologist who has been making mead for nearly 35 years, the handcrafted meads and local honeys produced on the farm are a sweet treat and beneficial to the survival of the bees.
Savour Sweet Offerings (Whistler)
Find sweet and savoury menu items inspired by the bees at the restaurants in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
An edible garden, a field of lavender, and a bevy of beautiful blooms can be found on the Woodlands Terrace of the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, where thousands of honey bees find solace in the urban habitat that has been created to keep the tiny creatures alive and buzzing.
Isabel Chung, executive chef and chief beekeeper at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, has a severe allergy to bees, but that hasn’t stopped her from devoting her life to keeping bees, and integrating pollen dependent ingredients into her diverse menu offerings at the hotel’s award-winning restaurants.
Everything grown in the garden is used by the hotel’s culinary team. From the blooms in the Bee’s Knees #2 cocktail that is made using a unique house-crafted beeswax gin and rimmed with dehydrated honey at The Mallard Lounge, to the Wildflower Restaurant’s Yarrow Meadows Duck complemented with a spruce-infused, honey-glazed duck breast, made with honey that come straight from the rooftop hives.
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