Greening the City with Hyatt Regency’s 32,000 Honeybees

Honeybee population is on a sharp decline in North America, which environmentalists say has far reaching consequences. But Jersey City is bucking the trend thanks to the addition of 32,000 honeybees that are currently residing on the 5th floor rooftop suite of the Hyatt Regency, which has just installed the seasonal beehive as part of Project 365: Jersey City Green Week.

In fact, David Martinez, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, says the bees will boost the city’s greening efforts significantly and may very well start a trend that affects the symbiotic relationship between bees and urban areas nationwide.

That effect has nothing to do with the beehive’s honey production, which is only expected to be somewhere between 80 to 100 pounds by the end of the summer, a nominal amount compared to the hotel’s use. “The honey produced will be surplus,” Martinez said. “It’s not a whole lot in the scheme of things.”

Rather, the bees’ main production will come from their pollination effort, which Martinez said will be “quite tremendous.”

“We anticipate they will pollinate at a minimum of a 2-mile radius around the hotel,” he went on. “That radius stretches into Jersey City, Hoboken, Manhattan, and the Liberty State Park. It’s quite a wide range that will be impacted by these bees.”

“People are going to get bigger yields from fruit trees and their gardens will be more robust without their realizing the bees had a direct impact,” he said.

According to the Hyatt, the successes of many state produced crops are dependent on honeybee pollination, including apples, cranberries, cantaloupe, watermelon and blueberries, the state fruit.

The bees are maintained by Hilltop Honey, a North Cadwell, NJ beekeeping- and honey company run by Joe Lelinho. It’s also the company that the Hyatt gets their honey from in bulk.

The conversation about bringing in a beehive started after Terry Dunbar, the general manager of the hotel, attended a buffet that featured a honeycomb while traveling abroad. When he returned, Cathy Kearney, the executive chef of the Hyatt, decided she’d “do one better,” recalled Martinez, and shortly afterwards introduced the idea of putting in a beehive. “It was the perfect fit for us,” he said.

“The honey bee does quite a bit of work,” continued Martinez. “It’s estimated that one-third of the world’s food supply is pollinated by the honey bee.”

“It’s on a decline in North America, and so we thought it was important to head up this initiative,” he said, adding that other Hyatts are considering something similar next year.

Photos courtesy Hyatt Regency

Matt Hunger

is a former staff writer for the Jersey City Independent.