Have you heard the buzz?
As the bee population dramatically declines around the world, tourist sites are taking up the mantle to do what they can to help them out. And it’s not as niche as you may think. Think along the lines of bee safaris, holistic spa treatments, candle-making workshops, honey-tasting sessions, and honey cocktails. Here are 10 destinations that making a buzz about bee tourism (or apitourism, as it’s more officially known).
Nap With Bees
In this bee-crazy country—with five beekeepers for every thousand citizens—you’ll find open-air bee museums, apitherapy spas, beeswax candlemakers, and the list goes on. Slovenia is, after all, the only country in the world with an official apitorurism program. Though the most unusual thing to do may very well be taking a nap among thousands of bees. Apitherapist Karl Vogrinčič rents cabins in the town of Pernice, in which 20 beehives have been inlaid within the walls. The buzzing resembles white noise, which will quickly relax you and lull you to Zzzzzz. The best way to experience all this is by taking a bee tour through ApiRoutes.
INSIDER TIPBeekeeping pioneer Anton Jansa was born on May 20, 1734, and his birthday is celebrated with honey-related festivities every year as World Bee Day.
Sip Honey Cocktails
Sip a sweet nectar-infused cocktail at the Mandarin Oriental Paris’ swanky Bar 8, featuring honey produced by their personal rooftop bees—some 50,000 of them. You’ll also find delectable honey sprinkled throughout savory dishes in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurants. As an added perk, a jar of honey made by those very bees is awarded to hotel guests willing to forgo daily fresh linens and towels. Turns out cities are prime places for bees, thanks to strict anti-pesticide laws, floral diversity, and lots of unused rooftop space, and the City of Light is on the forefront of urban beekeeping. You’ll also find hives atop many of Paris’ other buildings, including the Opéra Garnier, Musée d’Orsay, and Les Invalides.
INSIDER TIPLuxembourg Gardens has hosted traditional wooden hives since 1856, still maintained by a beekeeping school. Look for them in the gardens’ southwest corner.
Learn about Medicinal Honey
WHERE: New Zealand
Honey has been used since ancient times as a medicinal remedy, with exquisite manuka honey from New Zealand and Australia considered to be one of the most effective treatments of wounds and other infections. A great place to learn the ins and outs of medicinal honey is Comvita, a company established in 1974 to connect nature with good health. They’re now well-known around the world for their honey-based health products. A fascinating tour takes in the world through the eyes of a honeybee and divulges the secrets of the bee caste system.
Explore Sustainable Beekeeping
Beekeeping has long been a traditional way of life for Ugandans, and a recent interest in beekeeping cooperatives to offer agricultural training and beekeeping insights is doing much to bring it to the next level. Among the most successful cooperatives is Bunyangabu Beekeeping Cooperative, located on the road between Kasese and Fort Portal. Not only does it inform locals on key beekeeping strategies, but it also offers visitors a unique insight into the role of beekeeping in this East Asian nation. Learn about the traditional beekeeping process and how it benefits the community. You can also partake in honey tasting, as well as making your own candles from local beeswax.
INSIDER TIPKeep an eye out for BBC’s award-winning cream honey, said to be the best in East Africa.
Sample Honey Cream Ale
WHERE: Toronto, Canada
The Fairmont Royal York in Toronto opened the world’s first rooftop apiary in 2008 and it hasn’t looked back. At its summer peak, a whopping 350,000 honeybees reside in six beehives, producing 450 pounds of honey a year (though the record was 870 pounds in 2012). Of course, the hotel’s chefs use the honey from those very hard-working bees in their menus. Even more notable, some of that very honey is infused into the signature Honey Cream Ale during the aging process, adding a touch of sweetness to the nutty malt and floral hop character; ask for it in Piper’s and the Library Bar.
INSIDER TIPFairmont became the first luxury hotel brand to develop a brand-wide Bee Sustainable program. Meaning you’ll find yummy honey products in many of their hotels worldwide—all in the name of saving the bees.
Take an Apiary Class
Learn about what goes on in a bee’s life at Carmel Valley Ranch, from hive science to honey extractions. Each class includes a discussion and demonstration, with visits to the apiary to learn how new hive installations draw connections between plants and herbs, pollen and pollinators. In the end, you’ll enjoy a honey-tasting session which compares honey from different hives that are infused with the flavors of herbs growing nearby.
Explore Ancient Beekeeping Traditions
Without bees, there are no plants, and without plants, there is no life. That’s the motto of the Anel Honey Park, Greece’s first bee tourism project and learning center, which pounds on the fact that in a land where apiculture dates back to antiquity, hundreds of thousands of bees are dying annually. With guides evangelizing bee farming and sharing fun bee facts, you’ll explore the Greek beekeeping tradition and taste natural hive products from all over Greece. The best part? Relaxing and anti-stressing in the apitherapy house, where meditation is strongly encouraged.
Make Your Own Honey
FICO Eataly World is a gigantic food theme park just outside Bologna, where you can learn everything about Italy’s food and drink in a Disney-like sort of way. There are multimedia experiences, hands-on classes, a farmer’s marketplace, and an outdoor farm area with live cows and chickens. And there are bees. You can watch the bees at work in an enormous farming factory or jump right in and become a beekeeper for a day. And that’s not all. You can watch a live honey extraction, discover how the Etruscans’ used honey in their cosmetics, and/or learn how to produce your own honey. And, of course, you can purchase the final honey products—royal jelly, honey, candles, and more.
Go on a Beekeeping Safari
WHERE: Trinidad and Tobago
While some people may go on safari in search of elephants and wildebeests, Bees for Development—devoted to promoting sustainable beekeeping to fight poverty through the promotion of self-reliance—offers beekeeping safaris in Trinidad and Tobago. You’ll learn all about tropical island beekeeping, experience the difference between European and Africanized honeybees, and enjoy friendly island hospitality—with the proceeds going toward protecting bees and their habitats.
INSIDER TIPBees for Development organizes bee trips to Ethiopia as well.
Taste Honey Wine
Imagine a bottle of wine making a global impact—a win-win! And that’s what exactly goes on at Wild Blossom Meadery & Winery, which has been producing honey wine in Chicago for decades (as well as raising their own bees and producing their own honey). For every bottle produced, bees pollinate more than two million flowers. And those, in turn, produce 20 to 40 million seeds, all destined to become new flowers. You can tour the facility, taste the wine, and take classes, all in the name of “creating a ripple effect of positive change,” as they like to say. Other honey-sweet opportunities in bee-crazy Chicago include the warm honey drizzle massage at the Godfrey Hotel Chicago’s Spa Boutique; honey-and-flower liqueur at KOVAL Distillery; and beeswax candle-making sessions with Chicago Honey Co-op.