See the Luxury Hotel for Bees Inspired by a Wes Anderson Movie

The Grand Beedapest Hotel is raising awareness about the plight of the buzzing insects.
Jul 30, 2016·
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

After putting in a hard day’s work pollinating crops and flowers, the world’s bees deserve a bit of rest and relaxation. But instead of crashing for the night at a hive, insects in the U.K. can buzz over to the Grand Beedapest Hotel, a miniature structure that provides bee-friendly amenities such as pollen-filled plates, rhubarb sugar water baths, and bedrooms decked out with photographs of the Queen Bee, Beyoncé.

Inspired by the hotel in director Wes Anderson’s 2014 comedy film The Grand Budapest Hotel, the posh residence in the video above is the result of a partnership between Kew Gardens in London and U.K.-based beverage brand Taylors of Harrogate. Together they hope to raise awareness of how reliant people are on bees for survival, the steep decline in the insect’s population, and how folks can make their own gardens more bee-friendly.

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Taylors of Harrogate produces tea, so the company knows firsthand that if bees aren’t around to pollinate flowers, fruits, and other plants, it’ll go out of business.

“Many people may be unaware that some of our favorite fruits, including apple and cherries, all depend on insect pollinators, including bees,” Kate Halloran, a spokeswoman for Taylors of Harrogate, said in a statement.

A microsite the company created for the project points out that pollinators such as bees contribute to the growth of 75 percent of the world’s crops—kiss your strawberries and squash good-bye without bees—and 87 percent of wild flowering plants. Thanks to pollution, pesticides, and urbanization, the population of honeybees in the U.K. has been chopped in half. A similar decimation of honeybee populations has been seen in the United States, with one-third of bees dying off since 2006.

Although a congested, smog-choked urban environment might not seem like the ideal habitat for bees, researchers from the University of Bristol who are collaborating with Taylors of Harrogate and Kew Gardens say bees can thrive in cities as long as they have food and a suitable nesting site.

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“There are still many ways we can improve our towns and cities for bees, other pollinators, and wildlife in general. Bee-friendly flowers in gardens and public places provide crucial pollen and nectar sources, and bee hotels provide important nesting sites,” Katherine Baldock, a professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol, said in a statement.

So while the Grand Beedapest Hotel is as quirky and funny as its cinematic forebearer, the goal of the project “is to not only educate and entertain, but to also inspire action,” Halloran said. To that end, Taylors of Harrogate and Kew Gardens hope that people will be inspired to build their own bee hotels—bee disco not required—or grow pollinator-friendly gardens that can also help the insects thrive. If people aren’t sure what to plant, Kew Gardens is offering free seed packets to the public.