Bees are the environment’s sentries, but they are now at risk of extinction mainly due to the widespread use of neonicotinoid-based pesticides and insecticides in large agricultural areas. Bees are indicators of the health of our ecosystems and the only pollinators for a large number of plants. One-third of our food supply would disappear without them.
Relais & Châteaux properties are leading efforts to help this cause. Thanks to a new generation of beekeepers, its members are producing honey all over the world in places like Japan, New Zealand, Chile, England, Spain, France and the United States.
La Grande Maison Bernard Magrez, Bordeaux (France)
In 2009, Bernard Magrez began reintroducing bees at vineyards throughout the Bordeaux region as part of a contemporary art project originated by Pierre Grangé-Praderas. The project aimed to bring back domestic bees to wine-growing areas, increase pollination and share the fruits of their labours with the honey produced. During the season, the bees were only exposed to treatments made from essential oils.
Hostellerie La Cheneaudière, Colroy-la-Roche (France)
This property sells a line of natural beauty products called Simples et Miel that can only be found at La Cheneaudière. The line is paraben-free and dye-free, plus all the products are made with pure water from the Colroy-la-Roche springs, honey from the property’s beehives, berries from the Vosges forest and plants from the surrounding prairies (common plantain, common mullein or velvet-plant, black elderberry, heather and blueberries).
Saint James Paris (France)
Saint James Paris installed beehives with expert help from Timothée Quellard of Ekodev in a garden off the restaurant patio. Every year, customers can watch the honey being harvested, learn about the importance of saving bees and then taste a house honey, which Pastry Chef Mathias Alet uses in his creations.
Relais Bernard Loiseau, Saulieu (France)
Since July 2014, 200,000 black bees of Burgundy have been living on the rooftops of Relais Bernard Loiseau in small hives designed especially for them. Thomas Décombard of Apidis comes from a long line of beekeepers and tends to the property’s hives.
Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, Sardón de Duero (Spain)
Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine has teamed up with Miel Montes de Valvení to offer guests a chance to play beekeeper on a one-of-a-kind tour. Guests can visit the apiary dressed in special beekeeping gear and get up close to the hives.
Relais San Maurizio, Santo Stefano Belbo (Italy)
Located in Piedmont, one of Italy’s most famous gastronomic regions, Relais San Maurizio has made a name for itself in the beekeeping trade, which has been practised by Cistercian monks here since the 17th century. The property makes its own brand of honey called Abbey Honey on land halfway between the Alps and the Mediterranean atop a hill gently swept by sea breezes and surrounded by grapevines.