Raleigh, N.C. — Honeybees aren't a common feature in downtown Raleigh, but thanks to the efforts of a new restaurant, beekeeping has become a much more city-friendly – and productive – venture.
In early May, Sitti Restaurant partnered with Busy Bee Apiaries, a commercial beekeeping company in Chapel Hill, to put four hives on the roof of the Wilmington Street restaurant.
In addition to the hives, which each hold about 60,000 honeybees, the restaurant is establishing a 2,500-square-foot herb and vegetable garden, which will provide fresh ingredients to the restaurant while also serving as a honeybee-friendly environment.
Laura Tapp, with Busy Bee Apiaries, said putting bee hives on top of a restaurant provided some challenges.
"When the bees are full of the pollen and nectar, they weigh more and can't fly as high," she said. "Anything above eight stories, and the bees don't come back."
Once the bees start finding pollen and nectar, the honey will go downstairs to the kitchen at Sitti, where cooks will use it in the Lebanese dishes and drinks.
"Being able to have an ingredient that comes from us, that comes from our roof, is really important," restaurant manager Patrick Ewald said.
Although the bees will serve a purpose for the restaurant every day, Tapp said the partnership is about more than just food. It's a chance to educate.
"One-third of everything that goes in your mouth, including meat, is directly related to the honeybee," she said.