18 October 2012 ~ 0 Comments

From Field to Fork at St. Ermin’s Hotel

beehivesDazzling it is, but London’s St. Ermin’s Hotel doesn’t just pour all its efforts into looking good; its management and staff are keen to push the hotel’s green credentials and make the most of its location in the centre of London.

While the hotel’s interior design and exterior architecture is stunning, not so many guests realise that hidden on the hotel’s roof, far above the city streets, thrive an ever-growing colony of 200,000 Buckfast bees. Hus Vedat, the head chef at St. Ermin’s, is very proud of the fact that the hard working insect army store up enough nectar to provide his restaurant – the Caxton Grill – with enough honey for a variety of their most popular dishes, such as a starter of Bosworth Ash goats cheese, St Ermin’s honey, beetroot and raisin oil and crushed walnuts. Delicious!

And with the hotel’s position near the capital’s three biggest central parks, there is plenty of green space in which the bees can gather nectar and guests can also find tranquillity in the middle of this vast city. Take a walk to Buckingham Palace through Green Park, perhaps feed the ducks in St. James’s, or wander a little further to circle the Serpentine in Hyde Park.

Bee populations in Britain and elsewhere in the world are in a dramatic but largely inexplicable decline dubbed ‘colony collapse disorder’, in which bees are dying prematurely and in large numbers.

The continuing loss of meadows and green land, as well as the increased use of chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides are likely to be a big part of the problem. Experts have also pinned the blame on the spread of the varroa mite and other viruses.

However, even some of the world’s biggest cities, including London, are capable of supporting bees in their urban environments. St Ermin’s is pleased to be doing its bit to help support this vital part of our ecosystem.

As well as playing an important role in the food chain, bees are even thought to contribute to the reduction of exhaust fumes in cities like London by helping filter tem out of the atmosphere – amazing!

The bee project is just part of the hotel restaurant’s dedication to ‘eating local’. The Caxton Grill’s menu lists organic beef, salad leaves from Secretts Farm – a short distance south-east of the capital – and Label Anglais Chicken from Temple Farm in Essex. Head chef Hus is passionate about the ‘field to fork’ movement and selects every single ingredient for not only its quality but its sustainability.

St. Ermin’s hotel can be found at 2 Caxton Street, London, SW1H 0QW. 020 7222 7888

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10 April 2010 ~ 0 Comments

British Wildflowers To See In April

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa)
Creative Commons License photo credit: anemoneprojectors

 

Despite the dreadful weather forecast for the Easter weekend I’m pleased to say that I managed to get out on Easter Sunday and whilst there was a lot of cloud I managed to avoid getting wet.

Signs of spring were everywhere. The streets around where I live are alive with cherry blossom turning the gutters pink, while I also saw my first swallow of the year hunting over farmland in Sussex.

Despite a flock of long-tailed tits driving me to drink as I attempted (and failed) to stalk and photograph them for a good half hour, I was amazed to see so much plant life. This really is one of my absolute favourite times of year as all the plants look so new and fresh and lush.

Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa) was in bloom and I managed to get a snap of an early bee feeding on the nectar the plant was giving out. It seems that the leaves themselves are just starting to break out of their buds and so should be taking their proper form over the next few weeks.

Blackthorn Blossom And Bee

Blackthorn Blossom And Bee

Silverweed, cleavers and many more wild plants were all seen bursting into growth though those early spring flowers which bring colour (and essential nectar) to the countryside were the real high points for me.

Here are just a few I found on Easter Sunday:

Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria)

Lesser Celandine

Lesser Celandine

Common Comfrey (Symphytum officinale)

Common Comfrey

Common Comfrey

Common Dog-Violet (Viola riviniana)

Common Dog-Violet

Common Dog-Violet

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09 March 2010 ~ 0 Comments

Vanishing Bees

Macro Monday
Creative Commons License photo credit: emrank

As you are no doubt aware, our bees are having a pretty hard time at the moment. According to Defra and the British Beekeepers Association we have seen a significant decline in the population of bee species around the world. In the UK we have lost 2 bumblebee species alone in the last 70 years. Whole colonies of honey bees are dying for no obvious reason.

Of course bees have massive benefits to us all. Not only are they the sound of summer but they are also key pollinators for a huge range of plants. Without bees to do the work it is likely that huge numbers of plant species would suffer and crops may fail. We are talking some serious consequences here.

And so I thought that you, dear reader,  would likely be as concerned as I am by the situation. If so, then please take the 10 seconds it will take you to sign a petition encouraging further research into the causes of the current crisis.

You can fill in your name here.

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