Cold, wet weather has made homebodies of City Hostel's bees this week.
The Fairmont Olympic Hotel's new rooftop hives may be among the first downtown beekeeping operations, but - contrary to project organizers' initial belief - it's not the first urban apiary in central Seattle.
That honor may belong to Belltown's City Hostel Seattle, where owners Lee Kindell and Nancy last month set up a hive atop their 51-room lodge. The hive is an element of an ambitious plan to convert many of the building's unused outdoor spaces (including the 20,000 square-foot roof) into food production facilities: The couple's already installed elaborate composting systems, a hydroponic garden fed by a carp pool, fruit trees and a flock of chickens.
"I'd like to get some pygmy goats and make cheese," says Kindell, who's experimenting with how to best transform an exterior corridor into a greenhouse.
Kindell, a seasoned traveler, wants the 40,000 guests who annually visit his hostel to have access to fresh fruits and vegetables that are typically difficult to obtain on the road.
"When these guests come, they can clip their own greens," he says. "I'm not sure how much it will produce, but I think it will be a lot."
While the urban farm endeavor is fairly new, Kindell's made community-boosting projects a hallmark of the hostel, which he acknowledges is better known beyond Seattle, since it caters to tourists. The hostel's walls are adorned with paintings and murals by 47 young, local artists; the basement film screening room is made available to area filmmakers and many of the hostel's fixtures are constructed from recycled materials.
Kindell and Gambin are especially excited about the prospect of hostel honey. Kindell's optimistic the bees will produce honey by the fall.
"I think it's going to be fantastic," Kindell says.
"They seem really happy up there," Gambin adds. "We've been wanting to do this for years. We're hoping Belltown is kind to them."