YORK’s only five-star hotel’s newest residents presented staff with a special gift.

Earlier this year, The Grand Hotel took the decision to house a hive of thousands of bees on their rooftop.

Since the bees moved in, it seems there has been a hive of activity as they produce their first yield of golden honey.

The Grand, a testament to the wealth of Edwardian England’s all-powerful North Eastern Railway, whose headquarters it was, occupies a prime position overlooking the city walls.

However, the honeybees, who might easily have numbered up to 90,000 at the height of the summer, will have scoured a three-mile radius for the tree and flower nectar they needed.

The hives house three colonies which have been tended by beekeeper Paul Appleton, who manages apiaries in Pocklington and across the York area.

So far, he has harvested around 18 kilos of medium gold-coloured honey, which he described as “quite remarkable as very often you don’t get much honey at all in the first year of a hive.”

Paul added: “There are several factors which can go against you, such as the weather and the variety and quantity of plants from which the bees can collect nectar, and, of course, the rooftop of The Grand is very high up indeed.

“But we’ve certainly got off to a marvellous start.”

The Grand, York, is adjacent to the city’s extensive Museum gardens and overlooks the tree-lined banks of the River Ouse.

Paul said: “The bees would have visited both, along with other parks and gardens, taking nectar from spring flowers such as croci and snowdrops, along with trees, such as cherry and willow.”

Paul will now start preparing the bees for winter. He said: “They seem to have visited lime trees, because you can taste it in the honey they have produced, it has a lovely taste.”

Chefs at the hotel are now experimenting with recipes by adding the honey which with a view to adding them to the permanent menu in the coming weeks.