fairmont empress

Lost luggage and 60,000 bees in Victoria, B.C.

If you happened to be strolling by the famed Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C. last Friday night around 11 p.m. you may have noticed two people searching through the bushes with a flashlight.

That would have been me and a staff member of the hotel. We were out there looking for my luggage.

I’d arrived at the hotel that morning in time to meet John Gibeau, a beekeeper who’d just harvested 600 pounds of honey from a bank of beehives he’d installed on the hotel lawn a few months earlier.

Gibeau offered to give me a tour of the hives and I (bravely? foolishly?) followed him into the beehive corral where 60,000 bees were, well, already busy as bees making more honey.

Gibeau took apart one of the hives to show me and the small crowd that had gathered where the queen bee could be found. He let us taste honey straight from a hive, put what I think he said was an edible-but-not-tasty drone bee in his mouth (but didn’t eat it), explained why the bees kept bumping into me (I was in their flight path), patiently answered some more questions and then headed off with that pickup full of honey.

I checked into my room and rushed off to visit some attractions. And it wasn’t until 10:30 that night, as I began getting ready for bed, that I realized that I only had my computer bag with me. My other bag, stuffed with a week’s worth of clothing, was missing.

My only explanation was that I’d set all my stuff down by the bees and in all the excitement forgotten to pick it all up. And when the front desk said no, there were no unclaimed bags in lost and found, someone offered to go out there with a flashlight and look around.

We didn’t find anything. I went to bed thoroughly embarrassed, a bit perplexed, and resigned to having to buy fresh and no doubt expensive outfits in the tourist district before continuing on my adventure.

It was a mystery and an inconvenience. But not a trip-ruining disaster. Because, somehow, my bag showed up the next morning.

No one can explain where my clothes spent the night, but I’m betting those bees are having a good laugh.

My hotel stay was hosted by the Fairmont Empress. My bag – a much-used satchel I bought a dozen years ago at the Calgary Airport – still isn’t talking.