Portland’s Provenance Hotel chain has some new guests checking in—and they’re busy little bees. Literally. In an effort to promote local companies and bring the true flavor of Portland to its guests, Provenance Hotels has partnered with honey producer Bee Local, who has installed honeybee hives on the rooftops of Hotel Lucia, Hotel deLuxe, and Sentinel. Once harvested, the honey will become a featured ingredient in dishes and cocktails at Hotel Lucia’s Imperial, and the Driftwood Room and Gracie’s at Hotel deLuxe.
For three years, Bee Local owner Damian Magista has been extracting hyper-local honey from his thirty urban hives scattered throughout Portland, selling his sweet wares at farmers markets and local grocers. According to Magista, his honey’s distinct flavors are derived from the bees’ varied diets. “Commercially farmed bees typically pollinate a field of just one crop, and the honey is a byproduct,” he says. “A diverse urban foraging diet is beneficial for bees and results in healthier hives and honey with nuanced flavors that reflect the ecology of the local area.” So when you taste the honey harvested from one of the three hotels, you’ll be literally savoring the neighborhood’s landscape.
Currently, Bee Local Honey adds sweet vigor to the Imperial’s popular fried rabbit dish and gin-based Harlequin cocktail. It’s also the centerpiece of the Local Honey cocktail at Hotel deLuxe’s Driftwood Room, available on their new spring menu. And in fall 2014, Imperial chef-owner Vitaly Paley, a Bee Local enthusiast, will create a four-course tasting menu of honey-inspired fare. Bee Local Honey will also be available for sale in airline-friendly jars at all three hotels.
Honeybee populations in the United States have plummeted in recent years due to colony collapse syndrome—common among large commercial beekeeping operations. By managing small urban colonies, Bee Local and Provenance Hotels are aiming to boost the overall population of Oregon honeybees.