While the Waldorf Astoria Hotel is an iconic building in New York City, it houses a much lesser known attraction — the hotel is home to more than 300,000 bees.
On the 20th floor of the midtown hotel, a garden with six beehives make up the Waldorf Astoria's “bee farm." Each beehive houses about 50,0000 honeybees that pay their rent in honey.
That honey is used all over the hotel, from the baked Alaska in the kitchen to the pedicure treatment in the spa.
“We have these great ingredients from our roof. When we serve those to guests we say, ‘Hey here’s some ice cream and that’s our own honey’ and they can’t believe it,” Director of Culinary at the Waldorf Astoria David Garcelon told NBC's Kerry Sanders for TODAY Saturday.
Last year, the rooftop harvested around 450 pounds of honey and the staff says that they hope to make it to 500 pounds this year.
Most people don’t think bees can thrive in urban areas, but that’s not the case. “Bees actually do very well in cities,” said Garcelon, because they can pollinate in places like Central Park and Bryant Park as well as all the flowers and plants on balconies throughout the city.
As for getting stung, Garcelon said it's less of a concern than many people think.
“People have a fear of bees,” said Garcelon. “Many people were stung as a child, but chances are they were probably stung by a hornet or a wasp.”
So while bees may get a bad rap, the Waldorf Astoria honeybees are only there for one reason – to work.
Garcelon said that most people he talks to don’t fear the bees, instead guests at the Waldorf Astoria are mostly very intrigued.
“It’s an icon in New York," he said. "And they’re shocked that we’re doing something different here in the heart of the city.”