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Imagine a business of tens of thousands of individuals all working together in complete harmony, responding to changes in the market, adapting quickly and efficiently, and making complex decisions with speed and initiative on an individual and collective basis. Imagine all this without a single director or manager calling the shots. This is a honeybee colony and we have one in our Edinburgh office with 100,000 busy bees.

Nearly 3 years ago, I pitched the idea of having bees to the leadership team and they thought it was a great suggestion. Our bees are managed by Plan Bee an ethical, sustainable eco-innovation business.  They provide a fully managed beehive service.

Each hive gives us around 15kg of honey which is used in cooking in our client suite. Deloitte branded honey pots are also given to visitors to the office.

But there are lots of other benefits of keeping bees too. Here's five things you didn’t know about our honey-providing friends:

Planet protectors: Bees are vital to the ecosystem and our planet. It takes more than soil, water and sunshine to make the world green. Bees are important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. 30% of the world’s crops and 90% of all plants require cross-pollinations to spread and thrive.

Risky buzzness: Our bees are under threat, and without them so is our planet, food and economy. Since 1900, the UK has lost 13 species of bees. 35 more are currently at risk of extinction, primarily due to climate change and habitat loss. You can help to save them by doing a few simple things. Planting flowers rich in nectar will help bees find the food they need. Choosing local, British honey will support honey bees and beekeepers just like us.

A golden recipe: Over the years, cooking with honey has become more and more popular amongst chefs. I’m really lucky to be one of the few chefs that has access to a beehive, with pure natural flavoursome honey.

The use of honey has gone far beyond being a sugar substitute. When used in cooking, it adds flavour and texture to a range of sweet and savoury dishes. We show off our honey through our menus, including our signature honey oat biscuits, honey and feta pancakes, honey and soy duck breast and honey glazed pineapple carpaccio. They all go down a treat with our clients and colleagues!

The taste test: The flavour of honey is dependent on a number of factors - the area, the season or even the type of plants within reach of the bees. Honey bees can travel about eight miles in search of pollen, which is vital in honey making. Our bees are perfectly located within miles of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Holyrood Park. These are perfect places to concoct the amazing flavours which I then use in the kitchen.

Social insects. Our bees have created a bit of a buzz about the office. Each year, we hold events such as bee-friendly urban gardening, and sessions on the threat to the honey bee. We’re also planning to have some cooking classes using our honey. Learning about the workings of a hive seems like the perfect metaphor for the kind of collaborative values we aim to encourage in the office.

 

Think this is the bees knees? Check out some of our honey creations...

 

Food collage

 

 

Abi

Chef Tunde Abifarin, Head Chef at Deloitte

Abi’s journey as a chef started at a Singaporean restaurant whilst in college where he worked to earn extra money. After a few months of being exposed to different flavours and cooking techniques, and featuring in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper after being visited by a food critic, Abi knew this was more than just a job. He later worked at the Balmoral Hotel and The Pompadour at the Waldorf Astoria where he learnt from numerous chefs including Chef Dan Ashmore. As a chef, Abi treats food with the upmost respect, appreciating what the local area has to offer and cooking with the freshest seasonal produce - including the honey from our bee hives.

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