bees in the news

A bee hotel like you’ve never seen before


Although I usually don’t run press releases, this cute story from our bee-loving friends across the pond is right in line with the mission of Honey Bee Suite. If I ever get reincarnated as a bee, I’ll be sure to make a reservation.

British bees migrate to cities as rural habitats decline

  • 75% of Brits believe bees are found in the countryside, but University of Bristol research shows more British bee species are actually found in cities
  • Under half of Brits surveyed are unaware that bees contribute towards production of certain fruit and vegetables
  • Taylors of Harrogate is pledging to support urban wild bee projects, with world’s first luxury bee hotel, created to raise awareness of the importance bees play in adding flavour to our food

A new poll4 commissioned by Taylors of Harrogate to measure public perceptions of bee populations in the UK, has found that 75 per cent of Brits would expect to see more bees in rural areas. But according to experts, it is now more common to find a wider variety of bees thriving in UK cities.

Research led by the University of Bristol2 has found that when comparing the number of bee species living in urban and rural areas, there were on average 9.3 species (per km2) in urban areas, compared to only 7.3 species (per km2) in farmlands.

Dr Katherine Baldock from the University of Bristol, comments: “Bees need two things; food and a suitable nesting site. Both of these can be found in UK cities, although our research shows that urban areas can host high numbers of bees, as well as many different species, there are still many ways we can improve our towns and cities for bees, other pollinators and wildlife in general. Bee-friendly flowers in gardens and public places provide crucial pollen and nectar sources and bee hotels provide important nesting sites.”

Yorkshire based Taylors of Harrogate understands the importance of bees in delivering the flavours found in fruit and herbal teas, so commissioned research to look into Brits’ awareness of the effect the declining bee population will have on our favourite fruit and vegetables.

The research4 found that under half of Brits surveyed are unaware of the important roles bees play in the production of fruit and vegetables, therefore Taylors of Harrogate has launched a campaign to inspire action to save the flavor, by creating the world’s first luxury bee hotel.

The Taylors of Harrogate bee hotel is an intricately designed miniature hotel, with luxury interior features such as plates filled with pollen to feast on in the Rose Lemonade restaurant, and a sugar water bath in the Sweet Rhubarb suite.

The hotel itself is made from balsawood and includes traditional hollow tubes in the bedrooms, which is a popular nesting choice for solitary bees. Other key features, such as sugar water baths and ultraviolet patterns, have been included based on scientific research that suggests that bees are attracted to these, and will therefore be enticed to enter the bee hotel to get some much needed rest and relaxation.

Kate Halloran from Taylors of Harrogate, adds:

“Bees are so important in helping to provide great flavor, but less attention has been paid to show how urban areas can be made more pollinator-friendly. The aim of the bee hotel is to not only educate and entertain, but to also inspire action. From the Peppermint Leaf Gym for a complete wing work out, through to the luxury Sweet Rhubarb Suite with its decadent rhubarb sugar water bath and UV disco, their every need will be taken care of.

“Many people may be unaware that some of our favorite fruits, including apple and cherries all depend on insect pollinators, including bees. We want to raise awareness of this issue and encourage everyone to get more deeply involved and help create a network of real bee hotels, starting in their own back gardens.”

Tim Barsby from BeeBristol agrees:

“Bees pollinate one third of every mouthful we eat and they contribute around £651 million per year to the UK economy. We are all in agreement that we need our hard working friends but also, right now, that they need us. We’re delighted to see Taylors of Harrogate launching this fun and captivating campaign to help draw attention to the plight of pollinators in such a unique way.”

The dramatic decline in bee populations, coupled with the extinction of two species in the UK, means that the future flavor of our food is at risk. With the news that bees are thriving in city regions, Taylors of Harrogate is continuing its support for the bees and has moved its luxury bee hotel to its headquarters in Harrogate.

Taylors of Harrogate Bee Hotel facilities

Peppermint Leaf Swimming Pool: Fresh water fills the bee-olympic sized swimming pool and decorative flowers and mint leaves help to provide the perfect sanctuary to relax in, after a hard day’s work.

Peppermint Leaf Gym: This high-tech gym comes complete with weights for a full wing work out to help keep fitness levels buzzing.

Lemongrass Ginger Bar: After a hard day’s work the Lemongrass Ginger bar will help to shake your troubles away. Enjoy a drink from the nectar bar before throwing some shapes on the Waggle Dance floor.

Rose Lemonade Restaurant: Enjoy a quintessential feast at the Rose Lemonade Restaurant. Tables come complete with roses and lemonade glasses, with enough pollen for all guests to feast upon.

Spiced Apple Reception: The welcoming Spiced Apple Reception features luxury cinnamon bark banisters. Staff will use top-of-the-range Apple macs to ensure your check-in is a smooth process.

Sour Cherry Bedrooms: The cherry inspired bed covers, coupled with a daily supply of fresh cherries, is a favorite with solitary bees looking to catch up on some ZZZs.

Sweet Rhubarb Suite: The Sweet Rhubarb Suite is the show-stopper in the Bee Hotel, with Beeyonce regularly requesting to stay. Whether you’re looking to unwind in the luxurious rhubarb sugar water bath, or party-on into the night in the UV disco room and DJ booth, this decadent suite will blow you away.

Facts that you may not know about bees

(provided by The Bumblebee Conservation Trust)

  • There are over 250 types of bee in the UK – one of them is the honey bee, 25 of them are bumble bees, and the rest are solitary bees.
  • Only honey bees die when they sting – this is because their stings are barbed, bumble bees and solitary bees have smooth stings.
  • A queen bumble bee lives for one year, whereas queen honey bees can live for three or four years.
  • A bumble bee can travel up to 6km daily to visit flowers – this is the equivalent of a person walking around the globe 10 times to get to the shops!
  • Bumble bees see in the ultra-violet range of the color spectrum.
  • Different bees specialize on different types of flower and have different tongue lengths because of this – the garden bumble bee’s tongue is a whopping 12mm long, allowing it to probe into deep flowers to access nectar, while the honey bee’s tongue length is much shorter at 6.6mm meaning they forage on more open flowers.
  • Only female bees can sting, males can’t as they don’t have to protect the nest.
  • Bees have smelly feet! They leave a temporary scent behind on the flower they have just visited as a sign to other bees that the nectar in that flower has already been taken, so the next bee visitor to that flower can simply avoid that flower until more nectar is produced, and doesn’t have to waste precious foraging time.
  • The colorful bands on a bumble bee are only on the hair. If you were to shave a bumble bee, it would be shiny black all over (important note – we do not recommend shaving any bees to check this fact, just take it from us…).

Top ways for people to help save the bees at home

  • Open your own luxury Bee Hotel – visit Taylors of Harrogate.
  • Visit Bumblebee Conservation to score how bee friendly your garden is and receive plant recommendations.
  • Plant bee-friendly flowers in your garden or even in a window box, making sure that you provide flowers from March through October, as different species emerge at different times of the year. Most of our rarer species emerge later in the season (May onwards), which means that they need a pollen and nectar source into the autumn time.
  • Become a member of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.
  • Learn how to identify bees and help monitor them at BeeWalk Survey.

Taylors of Harrogate Bee Hotel

  1. Sirohi, M., Jackson, J., Edwards, M. and Ollerton, J. (2015): Diversity and abundance of solitary and primitively eusocial bees in an urban centre: a case study from Northampton (England). Journal of Insect Conservation. 19(3), pp. 487­500. 1366­638X.
  2. Baldock KCR et al. (2015): Where is the UK’s pollinator biodiversity? The importance of urban areas for flower-visiting insects. Proc. R. Soc. B 282: 20142849.
  3. Garratt MPD, Breeze TD, Boreux V, Fountain MT, McKerchar M, Webber SM, et al. (2016):
    Apple Pollination: Demand Depends on Variety and Supply Depends on Pollinator Identity. PLoS ONE 11 (5): e0153889. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0153889
  4. Research conducted by Taylors of Harrogate, June 2016, with One Pulse. Figures are based on 1000 respondents.

About Taylors of Harrogate Tea

Taylors of Harrogate is a Yorkshire-based family business devoted to the craft of outstanding tea and coffee since 1886. Tea experts at Taylors of Harrogate have decades of experience in seeking out the very best teas from the top gardens in the world and skillfully blending flavor-packed fruits and herbs to create beautifully balanced infusions.

Using premium ingredients carefully sourced by Taylors and certified by the botanic experts at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Taylors of Harrogate Fruit and Herbal Infusions range and Green Tea range are both blended to deliver pure and natural flavor.

Taylors is proud to be a founding member of the Ethical Tea Partnership, which helps producers meet internationally recognized standards.

About BeeBristol

BeeBristol is a not-for-profit project that works tirelessly to help make Bristol the most welcoming city for pollinators. They do this by working in partnership with local organizations, volunteers and community groups, and by planting wildflower meadows, which create habitat and forage. They also manage beehives across Bristol, whilst supporting all pollinators by engaging with the public at events, festivals, school visits and through art installations.


  • I can confirm that here in Maryland the urban areas are far more productive than county areas for bees. Our honeybees do way better and provide surpluses whereas the rural county areas provide only a place where starvation happens on a regular basis. Maryland farms are mostly chemically intensive corn and soy now and the majority have no pollinator buffer zones like the farms of the past. Sadly I lost over 25 colonies in the rural farming areas in the first year before realizing Baltimore is a bee sanctuary where I now keep nearly 100 thriving honeybee colonies that never need feeding, not to mention the hundreds of butterflies, bumblebees, and solitary bees I see on a daily basis. Let’s hope we change the ways we farm before it’s too late!!!!

  • There was an article a couple years back from London that reported similar things to what ^Bill Castro^ said, above. The city of London, like other cities keeps planting flowers to make the place pretty. They make sure something is in bloom nearly all year round, so there’s plenty of forage.

    I want to say that the article I read was written by Roger Patterson, who now oversees Dave Cushman’s website. But I can’t find a link just now.

    If someone wanted to look further, there are 3 groups I can think of:
    The LBKA (London Bee Keeper’s Association)

    BIBBA (Kind of the main beekeeper organization in England.)

    And Urban Bees (I’m only familiar with them in passing.)

  • Thanks Rusty — Whether it is a mixed farm or an almond orchard desert, it is time to start investing in agriculture that includes pollinator protection plans. Maybe it is the next step in organic certification — pollinator healthy certification. Imagine orchard and farm production where part of the plan is that the pollinators don’t starve.

    I’m not particularly impressed with a pollinator friendly designation that looks way skewed in favor of the honey bee, although I ought to tone down my North American reaction of automatically excluding honey bees from native bee consideration. A few years ago an Irish beekeeper told me about their efforts to conserve the Irish h.b., which is a black h.b. better suited to the wet conditions in Ireland.


    PS am writing this rather puffy eyed, having an unplanned “visit’ with some yellowjackets. I swear they recognize faces – they sure went for my face first and the ole pain receptors sure does alter scientific curiosity.

  • Drones (male honeybees) do not sting because they do not have a stinger (not because they don’t guard the hive). They don’t guard the hive because they don’t have a stinger. The stinger is an extension of the female reproductive system so only the worker and queen, who are female, have a stinger.

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