Life is Sweet in Our Hive

Honey in the Garden, Innisfree Hotels

There is now a real hive in The Hive of Innisfree Hotels.

On Thursday, November 17, 2016, Innisfree welcomed students and community members to celebrate its first honey harvest at Pensacola’s ‘From the Ground Up’ Community Garden, a project of the hotel company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Program, The Hive.

Buzz on over to this sweet video for the full experience.

Students from Dixon School of the Arts, Episcopal Day School, University of West Florida and Pensacola State College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society were on hand for the celebration, featuring a honey spinning demonstration by garden beekeeper, Dan Killingsworth. Lead Gardener Elizabeth Eubanks led the students through garden chores and responsibilities throughout the event.

Beekeeper Dan explained the process of making honey through a series of demonstrations using both a natural hive and a Flow Hive, which was purchased by Innisfree’s founder and CEO Julian MacQueen and placed in the garden in the spring.

The Flow Hive was invented to make the honey harvest easier on both beekeeper and bees. Frames are inserted vertically, allowing the bees to produce honeycomb on both sides. When it is time for the harvest, the beekeeper ‘breaks’ the honeycomb, allowing the honey to flow out of the hive, straight into jars.

There were lots of lessons to be learned. For instance, the third graders from Dixon were curious about the smoker that sat next to the hive.

Dan asked, “How do you think bees talk to each other?”

One scholar answered: “Bzzzzzzzzz.”

With a laugh, Dan explained that bees communicate through touch and smell. When alarmed, they produce a pheromone inducing a riot in defense of the hive. The smoke covers up this pheromone, and helps to calm the bees.

Other questions revolved mainly around bee stings, and whether Dan has become accustomed to the bites. (He hasn’t.)

They talked about what defines an insect, where bees come from, how you become the Queen, and if in fact, there is a King Bee. (There is not.)

Of the opportunity to connect with students from elementary to college, Dan says, “This kind of thing sticks with you more than a lecture. You can smell it, feel it, participate in it … after all, isn’t that what real learning is?”

Becca Carlson was on hand from Pensacola State College’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, who recently donated a hive to ‘From the Ground Up’ garden.

Part of their Honors in Action project, she explains, is to explore engineered versus natural products. Bee Conservation in Northwest Florida was this year’s theme, and having worked with the garden, they chose to donate the hive after using it for display purposes.

“We’ve seen the garden grow from its summer refreshment to the honey harvest this fall,” Carlson says. “It’s an incredible place for students to learn and grow.”

Following the Flow Hive, students were invited to watch the harvest of naturally produced honeycomb, many participating in removing the waxy parts with a knife and placing the frames in the chamber, which spins to yield its sweet elixir.

Naturally, the celebration culminated with a taste of fresh fall honey and chewy honeycomb.

– Ashley Kahn Salley
Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels

‘From the Ground Up’ Community Garden is a project of Innisfree Hotels’ The Hive. To learn more or get involved, click here or e-mail Jill Thomas at