By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
STUYVESANT TOWN — The popular Petite Abeille restaurant — French for "Little Bee" — is hoping to live up to its name by adding on-site hives to produce fresh honey for diners.
The restaurant has been scouting locations near its four Manhattan eateries to begin producing its own fresh honey to complement its traditional Belgian fare, DNAinfo has learned.
Restaurant owner Yves Jadot, who opened his first Petite Abeille location in 1996, said his restaurant's name alone provided him the inspiration to get into the beekeeping business.
"The idea for the honey, I've had it for quite a while," said the Brussels native, who also plans to sell individual jars branded with the restaurant's trademark smiling bee. "I thought the logo was perfect for it."
Jadot met Andrew Cote, a member of the NYC Beekeepers Association, while Cote was selling honey in Union Square. The pair brainstormed a plan to create an in-house hive to serve Petite Albeille's outposts in Murray Hill, TriBeCa, the West Village and the Flatiron District.
"The idea of using honey from one's own roof is unique," said Cote, who currently supplies Petite Abeille's honey from 140 hives he manages in the metro region. Cote also plans to maintain the restaurant's new hive. "I can't think of any [restaurants] that do that."
The benefit of producing homemade honey is that the substance is at its freshest when it's straight from the comb, Cote explained.
After the hive is populated, the beekeeper said he would check it on a weekly basis during prime honey-making season to make sure the bees are healthy and laying the sufficient number of eggs.
"Everything a beekeeper can do to cajole the bees into making the most of their season," Cote noted.
Cote recently took a tour of some possible rooftop sites in Stuyvesant Town, near the restaurant's East 20th Street location, and said it would be the most suitable spot to set up a hive due to its proximity to trees and other plantings.
Petite Abeille's other locations could also provide good homes for a hive, he added.
While a Stuyvesant Town spokesperson said the complex does not currently have plans to install a hive on the property, Jadot said he is confident they can work out a deal, or establish a hive near another one of his restaurants.
"We try as much as possible to use fresh produce, and try to go organic whenever possible," he said, adding that Stuyvesant Town provides the perfect environment for a hive. "I thought this would be the ideal place to do it."
If Petite Abeille ultimately can't find a suitable spot in the city to keep the hive, Jadot said he would have Cote set one up in the restaurateur's backyard upstate.
"It's really good to have them around you," he said of bees' ecological benefits, noting that he doesn't fear any danger from the hives against people — including his own daughter, who is allergic to bees.
"For the environment, I think everyone realizes that we need them," Jadot said.