It is not easy to keep bees in the mountains. On one hand, the growing season is very short and temperatures are low, but on the other hand, the environment is much clearer. When the beekeeping tradition began on the roof of the FIS hotel at the altitude of 1380 metres in June 2018, five bee colonies found their home in hives on the roof. “We were also not sure at that time how it would work. And today, this is already the fourth season of our hotel bees,” says Erika Fočárová, the FIS hotel general manager, with a smile on her face. “25 kg of honey was harvested last year and an unbelievable amount of 80 kg in the year before. We do our best to be ecological, no strong chemicals are used. A part of the honey is left for the bees to feed in winter and pollen stays in the hives as well. We only spin honey so that our guests can taste it. And they really like it so this summer, we would like to increase the number of our bee colonies to 6 or 7,” added Erika Fočárová.
To guarantee as good conditions for the bees as possible, the hotel has decided to use their own “wax cycle”. “As fields near our hotel are not treated with chemicals, the same applies to the vegetation at the hotel and only organic acids are used to treat the bees, there are no residues of aggressive chemicals in the wax. That is why creations of the bees are melted after each season, the wax is cleaned, disinfected and used to press new honeycomb partitions that can be filled with honey again,” explained beekeeper Vladimír Chovanec. After day temperatures in Štrbské Pleso increased above the critical limit of 15°C, activity began in the hives. “Unless anything unexpected happens, the bees will be working heard until August, when the harvest ends. Then we will have to spin their honey, feed the bees, treat them and prepare for winter,” added Vladimír Chovanec.
The quality of honey made by the hotel bees has been confirmed also by experts in laboratories as no heavy metal residues have been found in the samples, but minerals such as potassium (K), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg) have been detected. Honey made by the hotel bees is not for sale, though, it can be tasted only for breakfast. However, due to current pandemic restrictions, hotel guests cannot scoop it personally, so the hotel had to find another solution. And to make the honey experience complete, there is not only ecological cosmetics such as shower gel and soap with honey extracts made by a small family business in the nearby town of Poprad but also massages with natural honey cosmetics available.
The hotel summer programme includes a special beekeeping afternoon on 28th August 2021, when the care for the hotel bees and specifics of beekeeping at high altitudes are going to be described by the hotel beekeeper. Honey tasting and honey cosmetics testing are going to be included as well.