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Midtown Hilton rooftop abuzz with 450,000 honeybees

The New York Hilton Midtown is now home to more than 450,000 bees, which could produce a quarter ton of honey each year, according to beekeeper Andrew Cote. (Credit: David Handschuh)

The midtown Hilton hotel generated a lot of buzz Tuesday for its newest permanent tenants.

The Sixth Avenue hotel is now the home of 450,000 honeybees that will be staying in specially made hives on the fifth-floor roof garden. The six queen bees, Shelby, Ruby, Phoebe, Suite B, Beatrice, and Connie — who is named after the hotel’s founder, Conrad Hilton — and their loyal drones arrived in a checkered cab on a red carpet to the thrills of insect enthusiasts.

Andrew Cote, the beekeeper who will be maintaining the hives, said the bees’ grassy rooftop habitat and proximity to diverse flora in Central Park would create a good ecosystem for the bees and produce honey.

“It’s really a good spot,” he said.

The bees, which were bred in Connecticut, will be living inside wooden Langstroth hive boxes that will be placed on the 16,000-square-foot rooftop. Cote maintained a similar hive system at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, before it closed for renovations in the winter.

Diarmuid Dwyer, the hotel’s general manager, said he has been working with the beekeeper to bring the setup to the hotel for the past six months, as part of its ongoing efforts to be more environmentally friendly.

“Sustainability is really important to us,” he said.

Cote, a fourth-generation beekeeper, said the bees are in a prime position since their 3-mile flight radius would give them access to a wide variety of trees and flowers for their food, especially in Central Park.

“It’s an inexhaustible source,” he said of the park.

He added that the insects will stay strong during the colder months since the drones have a specific hibernation process.

“They form into a large ball around the queen and use their bodies to keep each other warm,” he said.

Jo Greenspan, an insect hobbyist from midtown, said the rooftop sanctuary would be a boost for Manhattan’s ecosystem.

“We need more bees. They are crucial for pollination,” she said.

Aside from greener plants, the drones will also make an impact on the Hilton’s menu.

Dwyer said the hotel will utilize the 300 pounds of honey produced by the bees annually in its kitchen.

Richard Brown, the hotel’s executive chef, created several treats from their byproduct, including honey caviar, honey-dipped fried chicken and rosemary-honey flatbreads.


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