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Relais & Chateaux support biodiversity through bees

Relais & Chateaux honey map
The protection of biodiversity is a major priority. 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. It is critical that the habitats bees thrive in are restored. 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 in the hospitality world. Thanks to a new generation of beekeepers, they are producing honey all over the world in countries including Japan, New Zealand, Chile, England, Spain, France and the United States.  

Bee-friendly properties in the Relais & Chateaux family include: 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). Guests can also enjoy the honey at breakfast along with delectable fresh bread – even the cereal and muesli are made by hand here!

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. They learn about the importance of saving bees, vital to protecting biodiversity, and then taste a house honey, which Pastry Chef Matthias Alet also 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.

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 begun by Pierre Grange Praderas. The project aimed to bring back domestic bees to wine growing areas, increase pollination and share the fruits of their labour with the honey produced.

Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine, Sardón de Duero, Spain
Abadía Retuerta LeDomaine teamed up with Honey 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 practiced 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. The residence holds the sacred secrets of the art of living.

Chewton Glen, Hampshire, United Kingdom
This English property first delved into beekeeping with a small handful of hives, but the venture quickly grew and as of this summer the apiary will have 70 beehives. With help from a professional beekeeper, the team has its heart set on expanding the activity mainly by planting the bees' favourite flowers and plants like borage, phacelia and lavender. Protecting bees is part of a widespread environmental effort that is also working to increase the populations of birds and hedgehogs as well as grow other plant varieties to offer guests unique custom-made jellies and syrups.

Llangoed Hall, Wales, United Kingdom
Llangoed Hall is strongly committed to protecting plants, animals and resources. So it was only natural that the property surrounded itself with chickens, quails and ducks.  More recently, they installed beehives in the gardens that supply locavore chef Nick Brodie with exceptional products all year round.

Longueville Manor, Jersey, United Kingdom
Longueville Manor embarked on an ambitious environmental conservation program called New Leaf. Some of the property's actions include maintaining 24 hives that produce honey for the restaurant and an active support effort for the Durrell Wildlife Preservation Trust, which works to protect species close to extinction. Bee colonies are helping area farms by improving pollination rates and they supply an abundance of fragrant honey for hotel guests.

Château St. Gerlach, Valkenburg aan de Geul, The Netherlands
Château St. Gerlach has five beehives and a display hive where visitors can watch Carniolan bees hard at work. Last year, they produced 150 kg of honey that was served at breakfast, used in desserts, given as gifts and sold. St. Gerlach's chef Otto Nijenhuis is a certified beekeeper and member of the Dutch Beekeepers Association.

Hotel Bareiss im Schwarzwald, Black Forest, Germany
The owners of this hotel in the heart of the Black Forest renovated an old farmhouse that once belonged to healers with a plan to hold events and old-fashioned tastings there for hotel guests. The carefully tended kitchen garden is a beautiful refuge for three bee colonies. The honey they produce is on the breakfast menu every morning and also used in a royal jelly treatment at the spa.

Beau-Rivage Hotel, Switzerland
On the hotel's rooftop lies Le Petit Beau-Rivage, a series of beehives that are home to 60,000 yellow and black pollinators.  Guests are invited to visit them guided by beekeeper Audric De Campeau, founder of the eco-responsible company CitizenBees. Dozens of built-in sensors were installed inside and outside the hives so you can see how the Hymenoptera live in real time.

Winvian, Morris, Connecticut, United States

Chef Chris Eddy at Winvian Farm in Morris bought some hives from local apiary Red Bee Honey to supplement his farm-to-table menu and live up to his commitments on sustainable development.  The hotel's Instagram page shows how this microcosm is buzzing with activity across 45 hectares of organic gardens.

Huka Lodge, Waikato, New Zealand

Two years ago, when talented chef Paul Froggatt came from Asia to New Zealand's Huka Lodge to be its executive chef, he immediately began crisscrossing the region to find fresh inspiration for his cuisine.  He became fast friends with a local beekeeper and convinced him to move some of his hives to Huka Lodge on the banks of the Waikato River in Taupo.

Tobira Onsen Myojinkan, Nagano, Japan
In the heart of the "Japanese Alps" lie the hidden charms of this hotel built in 1931. A little gem inside a national park embedded in the peaceful mountains between snowcapped peaks and hot springs reputed for their healing properties. Amid this incredibly lush landscape beehives have been installed, whose honey is harvested once per year.

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