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Bacardi creates buzz with eight beehives

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Global drinks giant Bacardi is to recruit thousands of new “workers” at its Bermuda HQ — and they will all be as busy as ... bees.

For the firm has set up eight beehives at the side of its landmark offices in Hamilton with beekeepers Wild Island Farms as part of a worldwide effort to protect the environment and increase the numbers of under-threat honeybees.

The beehive drive was launched with Bacardi's single malt Aberfeldy under the slogan “Barrels and Bees”, a nod to the honeyed flavour of the whisky and the gold deposits in Pitilie Burn — the Scots word for stream — in Perthshire, Scotland, where the distillery draws the pure water used in production of the country's national drink.

Gabriel Urrutia, the Aberfeldy brand ambassador in the US, said that the company would promote natural honey as part of its whisky cocktails and beehives had already been set up at its US headquarters in Florida and more would be installed around Bacardi's international network of offices.

Aleco Azqueta, the Aberfeldy brand director in the US, added: “This is a part of our sustainability platform for Aberfeldy and for us to raise awareness of the impact bees make on our ecosystem and also being able to educate bartenders on the importance of using natural honey instead of artificial sweeteners or synthetic honeys.”

He said: “We plan to roll out the initiative globally — that's hundreds of sites — and honey is a natural complement to Aberfeldy because it has very honeyed notes in the malt.”

He was speaking after Pipe Major Aidan Stone of the Bermuda Islands Pipe Band. led Bacardi executives and guests for a roof-wetting ceremony of the new hives at the side of the Pitts Bay Road offices last Friday.

Douglas Mello, managing director of Bacardi's Bermuda office, said: “The installation of beehives by Aberfeldy at our global headquarters is one of the many ways we give back to the environment and help drive greater awareness of the role we can each play in protecting wildlife and natural resources.”

Kristin Heyliger, of Wild Island Farms, said: “We have a few corporate contracts, like the Fairmont Southampton — everybody wants to do their part.”

The number of honeybees have been in decline around the world for 100 years and wild bees have experienced the sharpest drop.

But Ms Heyliger said Bermuda's honeybee population, devastated in 2009 by the killer varroa mite, had started to recover.

The use of some kinds of pesticides has also been blamed for a global decline in the honeybee population.

Bees are vital to agricultural production through pollination and Mr Urrutia told the audience at the unveiling of the hives that it was estimated that without them, the human population would die off in about four years.

Georgie Bell, Bacardi's global Aberfeldy ambassador, said: “The global Aberfeldy Barrels and Bees platform educates people about the plight of bees and the state of our wildlife, while advocating provenance and the use of quality ingredients that don't cost the earth.”

Ms Bell added: “We as a community need to help by supporting our local, urban beekeepers by planting for honeybees and buying local. It all has a knock-on effect.”

Bees will be introduced to the Bacardi hives in March, but the firm provided a glass-sided hive at the launch so guests could see the bees at work on honey production.

Walter Roban, the home affairs minister, whose responsibilities include the environment, told the gathering he had set up as a beekeeper “on a small level”.

Mr Roban said that Bacardi was “truly one of the original international businesses” in Bermuda and had made a major contribution to island society.

He added: “Honey is a part of the environment that's very important and we all know that bees are crucial to the survival of human existence.”

Environmental gesture: pictured, from left, are Jon Hitchcock and Kristin Heyliger of Wild Island Farms, Walter Roban, the Minister of Home Affairs, with Aleco Azqueta and Mahesh Mahavan of Bacardi, alongside a glass-sided beehive and Aberfeldy barrel (Photograph by Raymond Hainey)
Sting operation: from left, Douglas Mello, managing director of Bacardi Bermuda, Pipe Major Aidan Stone and Mahesh Mahavan, the Bacardi CEO, christen the new honeybee hives at the firm's Hamilton HQ with Aberfeldy whisky (Photograph by Raymond Hainey)

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Published January 28, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 28, 2020 at 12:58 pm)

Bacardi creates buzz with eight beehives

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