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Salamander Resort Launches Honeybee Project

© Leesburg Today - 07/30/2015

Salamander Resort & Spa has taken on a new kind of guest at the upscale Middleburg complex-the honeybee.

To be precise, some one million bees are residing at Salamander, according to General Manager Reggie Cooper.

Both Cooper and Chef de Cuisine Chris Edwards are enthusiastic about the new project, which should allow the resort to begin producing its own honey by summer's end.

Edwards said the goal is to slowly increase production from 20 or more bee colonies located around the property over the next few years. ""Although a small start, we are proud to make a positive impact in favor of honeybees and to continue to produce seasonal ingredients,"" Edwards stated.

Salamander has formed a partnership with local beekeeper Britt Thomas, owner of Britt's Bees, who is developing the resort's honeybee program.

Twenty hives have been brought in, containing about 50,000 bees in each, with the bees safely residing in the tree line across a large field from the rear side of the resort. Four members of the Salamander staff have been trained to tend the bee colonies.

The resort, opened in 2013, has placed emphasis on conserving the natural landscape-with 200 of its 340 acres under conservation easement-and on the use of locally sourced food, wine and other products. The restaurant grows herbs, vegetables and fruits in its culinary garden, where the bees will undoubtedly have a field day. By fall, Cooper said he expects the bees will be able to provide enough honey to meet all the restaurant's needs and to allow guests to take some home.

Thomas is also president of the Loudoun Beekeepers Association, and the Salamander experiment offers an opportunity to help reverse the alarming trend of dying honeybees.

According to a survey released by the Bee Informed Partnership in May, about 5,000 beekeepers reported losing more than 42 percent of their colonies during the past year-the second highest annual loss recorded since the surveys began in 2010. Thomas and Cooper hope that the sight of the bees across the Grand Lawn will increase guests' awareness of the problems facing honeybees and other pollinators.

For Cooper, the project is a natural.

""I worked with honeybees in other properties. It's good for the garden, and I wanted to get a similar set-up established at Salamander,"" he said.

Cooper plans a culinary series in September featuring a multi-course dinner with drink pairings focused on honey, along with demonstrations by Thomas and the resort's culinary team.

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