Guests at the Dalmahoy Marriott Hotel & Country Club will soon be able to enjoy fresh honey made on site – thanks to the arrival of six new beehives.
The Kirknewton getaway is hoping to harvest its first batch of “Dalma-Honey” later this month following the homing of 100,000 bees over the summer.
And ambitious plans could see 50 jars of honey produced from the hives every year to be served up in the hotel’s Pentland Restaurant as part of a commitment to managing natural resources.
The unusual scheme will take place under the watchful eye of HR manager-turned-beekeeper Daragh O’Hare, who brought the Western Honeybees over to Edinburgh from East Kilbride in early June and has spent the past few months settling them in.
Mr O’Hare became involved in beekeeping after taking a beginners course in 2010, and – after persuading the hotel’s management to install the hives – now hopes to complete a Basic Beemaster Certificate next year.
He said: “I was just interested in the environment and trying to make a bit of a difference. We all have our role to play – it sounds a little bit corny but it’s true. Obviously, bees have been in decline – that’s been highlighted in the media.
“Bees don’t take anything away from the environment. They help plants pollinate and help them grow, and it’s really important for farmers to have bees nearby as they will pollinate their crops. The benefit is that you’re doing the right thing for nature.”
Mr O’Hare said the Dalmahoy bee colony needed to be inspected once a week to ensure the bees are happy and healthy – with particular attention paid to the queen.
“The best time to visit the hive is when it’s sunniest – around midday – as a lot of the bees will be out foraging for nectar and pollen at that time,” he said. “The bees are 99.99 per cent female, so they are all sisters. This is the original girl power.”
The HR manager will be helped in his beekeeping duties by head gardener Martin Riley, who will be responsible for two of the hives, with two local experts in charge of the other four.
Mr O’Hare said: “The new Dalma-Honey offers our guests something different – fresh honey made right on the property – while helping to support the local bee population, which has a positive impact on the local environment.
“We have positioned our bees in a small enclosed clearing away from the hotel. We have also installed a wooden fence to secure the area and keep the wind out.
“And we’re installing a viewing window where people can observe the hives from behind a fence.”