VISITORS to the Devonshire Arms Hotel at Bolton Abbey are reaping the benefits of the hotel's very own bees.

The hotel took arrival of two hives of dark European honey bees several weeks ago, and has now had its first successful harvest.

It hopes to expand its bee colony and is planning to be able to offer guests the chance to visit the hives, and perhaps be tempted to take up the hobby themselves.

And under the watchful eye of concierge and now bee keeper, Andy Seward, the bees are producing honey to be enjoyed in a variety of ways from glazing on roast pork to ice cream and even a specially concocted cocktail.

“The bees have settled in really well over the summer months and we were pleased with the quality and quantity of the first harvest, although much of the honey has been retained within the hives to nourish the bees during the winter months," said Andy. "It’s important to ensure that they are catered for first; if all goes well, and the bees swarm, we should have a third hive, with an additional colony, next summer.”

And the honey features widely on the hotel's award winning menus. Guests can sample it in ice cream at The Burlington Restaurant, and in a cocktail at the bar. In the hotel, it is used as a glazing for Dales bred pork for Sunday lunch or for breakfast.

The honeybees have fitted in well to the hotel's Victorian walled kitchen gardens, which provide much of the salads, fruits, vegetables and herbs for the kitchen.

The honey is full of Yorkshire flavour, with the bees’ main food sources being pollens, not only from the kitchen gardens and surrounding cottage gardens, but also from the nearby moorlands.

As well as being a tasty addition to the hotel’s pantry of locally produced foods, the beekeeping also fits in nicely with the green policies of The Devonshire, which has been awarded gold in the ‘Green Tourism Business’ for two years running.

It is also hoped the Devonshire honeybees will help address the worldwide decline in bees, and once they are settled, hotel guests will be given the opportunity to visit.

Andy added: "Luckily the bees we have chosen are known for their good temperament, it’s a fascinating hobby and I am really looking forward to imparting my new knowledge and sharing my enthusiasm for beekeeping with guests next season."