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Empress Bees Busy, Honey Beer Coming Soon


VICTORIA — Fairmont Empress Executive Chef/Beekeeper Kamal Silva who knows his way around a hive. He’s out in the Centennial Garden once a week, making sure his 200,000 or so honey-making friends are comfortable.

The gentle creatures appear to be thriving in 10 hives outside the hotel, where they’ve been churning out honey for a year. “Last year 1700lbs of honey, this year the plan is to get 2600lbs of honey” says Silva.

He expects the Empress bee population to grow to 1.6 million by summer and he’ll find a way to use every drop of the honey. “We use it for sauces, we use it to marinate the duck, and honey is a liquid gold. You can use it for anything.”

The honey is proving popular in the Fairmont store. Maybe too popular. You won’t find it next to the world famous tea, instead, it’s locked up tight. “We can’t keep it on our shelves, literally. We’ve never had problems with theft before until the honey came along. It was the most stolen item in the store” says Manager Elizabeth Stevenson.

By the middle of May, you won’t only be able to eat what’s produced by the Empress bees, you’ll be able to drink it too. 40kg of fresh honey is already being brewed into the first batch of Empress honey ale that’ll be sold all over town.

It’s honey hefeweizen to be exact, being brewed up by Sean Hoyne. After more than 20 years on the Victoria beer scene he’s struck out on his own, and knows a sweet ingredient when he sees it. “Totally. Craft beer is all about fresh. It’s a lot like bakeries; you want your bread fresh and want your beer fresh.”

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