Lincoln hotel home to honeybee farm

Wisconsin State Farmer
Paul Tunakan (left) Director of Sales and Marketing for the Cornhusker Marriott, and Warren Nelson, owner of Valhalla Bee Farm, set up a water station for the bees residing in four bee hives on the roof of the hotel. The rooftop of the hotel is expected to be home to about 240,000 honey-producing bees.

LINCOLN, NE (AP) - A hotel in Lincoln has started a new honey farm on its roof.

Beekeepers Warren Nelson and his son, Trey, carried four bee-filled hives last week to the roof of the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel. The bees will multiply until the hotel is home to about 240,000 honey-producing bees, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

The hotel contacted Valhalla Bee Farm, which the Nelsons operate, in October for help bringing in honeybees to the hotel. Cornhusker said it was inspired after having an artist-in-residence program where Margaret Berry created paintings with resin, pigment and beeswax.

"It inspired us to look into having bees on the roof and to use the honey," general manager Susan Madsen said.

Nelson ordered 12 pounds of Italian honeybees (about 40,000 bees) and four queens from his supplier in California in April for the hotel.

He said he took care of the bees at his home for a few weeks to feed them sugar water so they can multiply to nearly 100,000, then went with his son to take them to the hotel roof.

Nelson said that he's never been hired to care for another company's bees.

"This is a first for us," he said. "It's a new concept."

The hotel hopes to soon harvest up to 600 pounds of honey annually. It'll sell some in the gift shop, and its chef and pastry chef are already preparing ways to incorporate it into their menus.

Madsen said honey sales should be the closest hotel guests ever get to the rooftop bees.

"They don't have to be worried about getting a bee sting," she said. "The bees are just doing their job."