Balmoral hotel at odds to explain mystery swarm of bees

The No 1 team with beekeeper Brian Pool. Picture: Susie Lowe

The No 1 team with beekeeper Brian Pool. Picture: Susie Lowe

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THEY caused a buzz in the east end of Princes Street – thousands of bees suddenly appearing from nowhere to swarm around the entrance to one of the city’s top hotels.

Footage was shared widely online last weekend – but no-one could explain where they came from.

So when the Balmoral announced yesterday that it had given lodgings earlier this year on its rooftop to 50,000 bees tasked with producing honey for paying guests, it seemed the mystery had been solved.

But there was a sting in the tail – for the hotel insists its critters were locked up in their skyline suite at the time and on their best bee-haviour.

However, bosses there did suggest the Princes Street pests could have been attracted to the area by the arrival of their own residents.

While the mystery remains unsolved, the Balmoral’s bees have been hard at work – making regular ventures to Calton Hill, the Botanic Gardens and Arthur’s Seat to collect the majority of their nectar and pollen.

We don’t believe it was our bees that caused the swarm, ours were all on the roof

Balmoral spokeswoman

So far they have produced 44lbs of honey to be enjoyed in the hotel’s restaurants.

Beekeeper Brian Pool, from Scottish Honey, was drafted in to ensure the creatures settled well into their rooftop hive.

Staff from the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Number One, have been put through their paces to ensure the hive is always in good hands. They have been overseeing the production of honey, and ensuring each of the hotel’s restaurants and bars have received their fair share of sweet stuff.

Brian said: “The bees are enjoying their new home high above the Edinburgh skyline.

“The conditions are excellent and they’ve been travelling to Calton Hill, the Botanic Gardens and Arthur’s Seat to collect nectar and pollen. They look set to continue working hard through the summer months.”

The congregation of bees outside the Balmoral last weekend became so bad that the hotel was forced to call in experts to take action. But a spokeswoman said: “We don’t believe it was our bees that caused the swarm. Ours were all intact on the roof. However, we are aware bees can often attract other bees.”

Two years ago the Scottish Parliament introduced two beehives to the parliament garden in a nod to nationwide conservation efforts to protect the species.

The honey produced by the bees is sold in the parliament shop – and used by MSPs and staff in the canteen. And now the Balmoral is following in its footsteps. Brian Grigor, head chef at the Number One, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Scottish Honey and help support this environmentally friendly practice. Brian Pool is a third-generation professional beekeeper with over 40 years of experience, there is no better person placed to look after our five-star bees.

“It has been fascinating to learn about the honey production process and our team look forward to serving it to our guests this summer.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk