AUSTIN -- It's a honey of a story that has plenty of people buzzing. A downtown Austin hotel is going above and beyond to use local ingredients and help honey bees.
At the top of the W hotel, there's a sweet little oasis on the 38th floor. The rooftop paradise is buzzing with new residents.
The W is the only hotel in Austin to have a rooftop apiary.
“We probably have close to a million bees on the roof,” said bee wrangler Walter Schumacher.
He set up 10 hives and a mini garden in March.
“With the blooming flowers of the herbs, and the vegetables, and the trees that are up here, it calms them,“ Schumacher said.
The busy bees spend their days flying within a two-mile radius around the hotel, pollinating plants and gathering nectar. Then they head back to their swanky W digs for a much-needed cocktail -- a mix of pears, apples, water and sugar.
“Three weeks ago when there wasn't honey flow, that bucket would disappear every day. We've given them love, dig what I'm saying?” Schumacher said. “These bees are happy. They have room. They have food, and they have beautiful flowers and plants to frolic in.”
The happy bees are producing plenty of honey.
“Each hive right now has somewhere between 30 and 50 pounds of honey in each one. We kind of trick them, because it's not theirs,” Schumacher said. “We're going to take it.”
That honey will be mixed in desserts, special dishes and drinks inside the W's restaurant TRACE.
“We kind of pride ourselves in using different local, fresh ingredients, and this is just another way to capture such a great resource in so many different ways,” said Executive Pastry Chef Janina O’Leary. “It really has just this great, earthy taste to it. Surprisingly, it has a little bit more depth. It's a little more rich."
Don't worry about bee burnout. The hard working honey-makers get plenty of time off.
“This apiary contains 40 beehives,” Schumacher said. “There's only 10 on the roof, but they get rotated in and out, so basically, after these produce honey, they go to the country and rest.”
The hotel will gather the honey three times a year. It's having a honey bee housewarming party Thursday night so everyone can get a taste.
The honey not used by the hotel will be sold at Wheatsville CoOp and Whole Foods.
The proceeds go to help save more local bees.