How a CBD hotel could save Sydney’s endangered bee population

Beekeeper Andrew Wilson said the Swissotel’s rooftop beehives produce about 20 kilograms of honey that is used in its Ten Stories restaurant.Credit:Peter Rae

Mr Pugliano infuses the honey with truffle, smoked bacon, gold and lemon myrtle – which is used in dishes such as Wagyu beef bresaolo, miso marinated kingfish and honeycomb crunch gelato.

“Supplier’s honey is a blend of various batches mixed into one,” he said. “Our rooftop honey is pure, unfiltered and not blended.”

Mr Pugliano also said the flavour of the honey also depends on the season and location of the bees.

“Being so close to the Royal Botanic Gardens the bees frequent this area, so you can certainly taste fruity undertones of berries, plum and passionfruit,” he said.

Mr Wilson is a member of Sydney Bee Rescue, a group of beekeepers who rescue bee colonies from places where they are at risk.

“I know where every one of my hives came from, and I have grown very attached to my bees,” he said. “Just like anyone who cares for animals, I get nervous and worried if I think the bees may be sick, or may be struggling.”


Mr Wilson said the rooftop beehives allows the hotel to be “genuine city farmers”, with each of its four hives producing about 20 kilograms of honey.

“It’s rare to be able to produce food in usable quantities in the city and these hives do just that,” he said.

Climate change and habitat loss caused by urbanisation are putting pressure on bee populations, Mr Wilson said.

“With the floral losses have also come a reduction in fauna, including pollinators from these areas,” he said. “We’re also experiencing increasing climate variations which are wreaking havoc on the pollinators, especially bees.”

Mr Wilson said early spring weather in winter caused bees to build up populations then starve because of a lack of food.


“Bushfires and floods are destroying habitats, and the recent wet summer has caused significant hive losses due to starvation when the bees can’t leave the hive for extended periods of time,” he said. “Put simply, it’s a tough time to be a bee.”

Mr Wilson said efforts to “green” urban areas also required reintroduction of pollinators to support green rooftops and city gardens.

“The bees on the rooftop of Swissotel in the centre of Sydney travel within a five-kilometre radius of the hive and pollinate the flora within this area,” he said. “When the hives are at their strongest in spring and summer, this re-introduces 80,000 pollinators into an area.”

The Morning Edition newsletter is our guide to the day’s most important and interesting stories, analysis and insights. Sign up here.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.