Pots of gold for York hotel

York’s only five-star hotel is buzzing after its newest residents presented staff with a very special gift.

The Grand, York, has been a hive of activity since taking the decision earlier this year to house thousands of bees on its spacious, flat rooftop.

And now they have paid for their keep by producing their first yield of golden honey.

The Grand – an opulent testament to the wealth of Edwardian England’s all-powerful North Eastern Railway, whose headquarters it was – occupies a prime position overlooking the city walls.

But the honeybees – who might easily have numbered up to 90,000 at the height of the summer – will have scoured a three-mile radius for the tree and flower nectar they needed.

The hives house three colonies which have been tended by beekeeper Paul Appleton, who manages apiaries in Pocklington across the York area.

So far, he has harvested around 18 kilos of medium gold-coloured honey, “which is quite remarkable,” he said, “as very often you don’t get much honey at all the first year.

“There are several factors which can go against you, such as the weather and the variety and quantity of plants from which the bees can collect nectar, and, of course, the rooftop of The Grand is very high up indeed.

“But we’ve certainly got off to a marvellous start.”

The Grand, York, is adjacent to the city’s extensive Museum gardens and overlooks the treelined banks of the River Ouse and Paul said, “the bees would have visited  both, along with other parks and gardens, taking nectar from spring flowers such as croci and snowdrops, along with trees, such as cherry and willow.”

And Paul, who will now start preparing the bees for winter, said “they seem to have visited lime trees, because you can taste it in the honey they have produced – it’s lovely.”

Chefs at the five-star hotel are now experimenting with recipes which will best showcase the hotel’s honey with a view to adding them to the menu in the coming weeks.