76 South Bay Accent
COURTESY OF FAIRMONT SAN JOSE, OPPOSITE: COURTESY OF BAY AREA
BEE COMPANY, OPENING SPREAD: SHUTTERSTOCK
According to beekeeper, mentor and educator Emily Bondor of
Santa Cruz Bee Company, commercial farming, which relies on
the use of chemical fertilizers and fungicides, created a domino
effect that threatened bees by making them susceptible to parasitic
mites and pathogens. But honeybees now seem to be making a
comeback, giving South Bay residents a reason to appreciate just
how sweet it is to have them buzzing among us again in full force.
Locally, we savor honey. Check any number of local markets,
bars and bistros, and you’ll find them well stocked with this superfood
that’s chock-full of health benefits. Honey and pollen not
only offer a panoply of nutrients like amino acids, enzymes and
minerals, but can also stimulate the immune system, heal wounds
and help prevent heart disease.
We’re not leaving it to nature alone to rejuvenate bee colonies.
A wide range of commercial and environmental players in the
South Bay have come forward to champion the cause; some host
rooftop bee colonies while others conduct varietal honey tastings
and implement bee-friendly sustainable farming.
Here’s the buzz on some of this area’s hippest places to taste,
tipple and promote honey-centric food and beverage programs.
Fairmont San Jose remains perhaps the most prominent player
in South Bay hive protection. For more than 25 years, Fairmont
Hotels and Resorts has committed to protecting the environment
through its award-winning Fairmont Sustainability Partnership.
Fairmont San Jose has been home to a rooftop “bee hotel” since
2013, and the hotel has partnered with beekeeper Doug Smith of
Bees at Home for bee upkeep and honey extractions. Four beehives
comprise its South Tower rooftop “bee hotel,” a mini replication
of the Main Tower building.
The hotel’s pollinating populations fluctuate seasonally, from approximately
10,000 bees per hive in December to as many as 60,000
in June. Honey harvesting typically takes place in spring and fall,
with each hive producing four to six gallons of honey per season.
Fairmont San Jose proudly showcases its “house” honey in
the hotel’s cuisine. Locally sourced, organically produced and
sustainably focused, it integrates honey into seasonal soups, salad
dressings, pastries, cheese boards and desserts. Rooftop-sourced
honeycomb stars in its most popular menu item, a cheese and
charcuterie board garnished with whipped, freeze-dried honey
fashioned to resemble white clouds.
For South Bay residents seeking a more intimate vibe, Mountain
View wine bar Le Plonc spotlights honeycomb from Bay Area Bee
Company on its cheeseboards.
“Local produce is generally fresher and more flavorful, and the
honey is no different,” explains General Manager Hannah Kaiser.
“It provides two important elements to this dish: a sweetness that
Doug Smith tends
the beehives atop the
Fairmont San Jose