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Center City Hotel Adds Honeybees To Its Rooftop Gardens

By John Ostapkovich

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A center city hotel's rooftop garden will be buzzing this year, with the addition of two beehives and their resident tens of thousands of honeybees.

This is the third year for the garden atop the Sofitel Hotel, near 17th and Sansom Streets, but first for the hives, according to general manager Vincent Vienne.

"We probably have the highest living bees in Philadelphia right now, and rooftops seem to be a perfect living spot for them," he notes, far from the hustle and bustle at ground level but an easy commute for flying insects expected to range as far as a mile and a half, taking care of bees-iness.

They will not only pollinate the garden but provide an estimated 60 gallons of honey for the hotel's kitchens.

"We have a Honey Bee cocktail, which is what we're going to use the honey for," says executive chef Justin Purdue, who has plans for garden products, too -- mostly tomatoes and herbs.

"Basil, rosemary, thyme, two different kinds of parsley, mint, and of course French herbs going in, especially lavender," he says.

And he says the ingredients will be the freshest possible, from harvest to plate via only a quick elevator ride.
"I have a halibut dish with spring vegetables, baby zucchini, and patty pan squash, which will be growing here and served with a sauce vierge which is dill, chervil, parsley, and then a confit of tomato, which also we'll be growing here in the garden."


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