There’s some serious buzz around the Mandarin Oriental, Paris hotel, and not just from guests. High on the rooftops, supplying the business with the honey that goes into its desserts and cocktails are 100,000 bees, living comfortably amidst two hives set up by French beekeeper Audric de Campeau.
Arguably the most famous beekeeper in the capital, Audric was one of the first to install beehives at iconic Parisian monuments such as Les Invalides or Musée d’Orsay, but his passion for it began early on in the countryside. “My parents have a house in Champagne, one hour away from Paris. Every weekend when I was young I was there, growing vegetables, planting trees and making wine. One day I asked myself, why not have a hive? My father was an allergic to bees, so the answer was no. But I fought for it and won, and finally I installed my first hive in the woods, far away from the house,” he told Lonely Planet.
While studying at Sorbonne, Audric had the idea of writing letters to different administrations, hotels and museums to see if they would host some hives in their gardens or on their rooftops. It all grew from there, and now, Audric and his team manage 300 hives across Paris and Versailles. “That’s how I fell into this world. I love these fascinating insects. No school, I learned by myself, and with a lot of stings at the beginning.”
Created to help protect biodiversity and to restore a decreasing bee population, the hives on the top of the Mandarin Oriental, Paris yield between 30 to 40 kilograms of honey per year, as well as playing an important role in the pollination cycle of the pesticide free urban environment. Executive chef Thierry Marx and pastry chef Adrien Bozzolo currently use the honey in the hotel’s menu. The hotel’s signature cocktail even includes champagne, yuzushu, jasmin tea and home-made honey.
As part of its mission towards sustainability, Mandarin Oriental, Paris also offers guests the chance to contribute to an agroforestry farm in Paris. Guests who book online can subscribe to “Act for the Planet”, where a donation of €8 ensures a new tree is planted. Visitors can create a profile that gives them detailed information on the status and location of their tree. The hotel is also the first in France to obtain the High Quality Environment certification (HQE), and merges comfort with environmentalism. An inner garden has approximately one hundred different trees and shrubs that are watered via a drip system, while soundproofed windows help to control the internal air temperature.
Guests who wish to participate in the hotel’s environmental programme, such as the selective replacement of bed linens or towels, also receive a jar of honey produced from the rooftop hive.
“When we inform our guests about our rooftop beehives it is often the ‘wow effect’. Most of them really appreciate the idea of having bees in the centre of Paris and also enjoy being part of our environmental effort,” Laura Pacaut of Mandarin Oriental Paris told Lonely Planet.
More information on Audric and his projects is available at his official website.