Bee grade hotel

Designer Etienne Hanekom is known for his small space design savvy but for clients of a new hotel at Babylonstoren he had to scale things down more than usual.

Interior designer Etienne Hanekom, the Cape Town creative behind projects like Majeka House and Cape Town Design Company offices, was asked to turn his discerning design eye to an accommodation challenge of a different sort. 

How did the project to build and install a bee hotel at Babylonstoren come about?

We were invited by Babylonstoren to do an installation for the garden. The brief was to take inspiration from the garden, farm, and its surroundings. 

Do bees actually use hotels or do they simply move in permanently? 

Lots of solitary bees make use of bee hotels because they make individual nest cells for their larvae. 

Did you have to do much research for the design of the hotel?

Yes, I consulted a few bee experts and did some research on European bee hotels, although there is a big difference in the behaviour of European bees and African bees. Our bees, like our people, are more aggressive.  

Are there any specific features that make it ideal for bees?

Solitary bees like little tunnels and holes while honeybees will make a hive. Since bees are very sensitive to toxins we only used natural materials and non-toxic sealers and renders.

Can you please tell us about the architecture of the hotel?

The inspiration came from the gable of a former 19th century grain store on Babylonstoren. Grain store is currently being used as a space for weddings and launches.

Has the bee hotel been star rated and do these hotel guests have access to the spa?

Since we don’t offer room service yet, it only has a 4 star rating, but by spring free nectar will be available throughout the garden. And yes, we do offer a honey treatment in the spa.