The Arrival of the Queen (bee) at the Fairmont Empress

What a treat to be present for the arrival of the Queen (bee) at the Fairmont Empress!

Recently named Executive Chef Kamal Silva was instrumental in introducing honeybees to  the Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel, and decided to repeat the experience in his new home, Victoria BC.

John Gibeau of the Honeybee Centre in Surrey provided over 400,000 Carniolan bees, in 10 hives, which have been installed in the Sunken Garden at the Empress. Over this season, the population will double, and produce about 1000 lbs of honey, to be featured in dishes at the hotel’s restaurants, including in the world-renowned Afternoon Tea Service.

Guests were treated to honey-based creations by Chefs Silva, Ken Nakano and Doyen Christie.  Drinks included a “Refresh Energy MarTEAni”, wheat grass and mint smoothies.  A small take-away pot of honey included the MarTEAni recipe below:

3 oz Chilled Fairmont Energy Tea (a tisane of  yerba maté, lemon grass, spearmint, ginseng and ginko)

1 oz Lemon Vodka

1/2 oz Cointreau

3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

1 oz Honey Syrup

Shake all ingredients over ice and serve in a martini glass with mint garnish

This martini was light and refreshing. A perfect drink while sitting on The Veranda after a day of sight seeing, or, if local, perhaps shopping.

Servers circulated with trays of appetizers and desserts.  A spectacular visual presentation included a base of blue potato (its actual colour) with salmon mousse.

Salmon mousse on blue potato base

The desserts, by Pastry Chef Doyen Christie, featured white chocolate honey truffles, a chocolate mousse cake and honey-based bar.

Chocolate mousse cake and honey-based bars

After an introduction by General Manager Martin Leclerc, John Gibeau of the Honeybee Centre and Chef Silva proceeded to smoke the bees, remove the queen, and create a “bee beard” on Chef Silva.

But not before allowing us to taste the honey already being produced in the frames.  Each hive can make 5 lbs of honey a day.

Hive frame - honey being produced

Honey from this frame was drizzled over a spoonful of Cambozola cheese, the onctuosity and sweetness of the honey pairing so well with the sharpness of the cheese.

Bouchée marrying sharp and sweet

And now, for the “bee beard”.

Bee Beard

The complete set of photos is available here, on Flickr.

Chef Ken Nakano, John Gibeau, Executive Chef Kamal Silva

Thanks to the Fairmont Empress Hotel for a lovely, elegant afternoon welcoming the Queen.

About @lacouvee

Community Builder. Catalyst. Speaker. Writer. Arts Advocate.

Passionate about bridging online and offline communities to effect positive change.

I truly believe that one person can make a difference and that we all have our own lives to live, creatively, while respecting the unique nature of others.


  1. […] When Executive Chef Kamal Silva was appointed to the Fairmont Empress Hotel, one of his very first decisions was to establish honey bee hives in the garden.  (You can read more about the arrival of the Queen Bee in May 2011 here) […]

Speak Your Mind