I’ve been a resident here for along time, and because my sons live here, I still consider it my second home.
In keeping with the goals of WBI, the first people I wanted to meet are two beekeeping friends who can be found in one of the most beautiful of French roman towns, Arles. Which is located on the Rhone river between Marseille and Avignon.
Gaec Hugel has been an acquaintance of mine since the 80’s. He’s a second generation beekeeper who’s family and business is actually located outside Avignon.
Besides a multiple of different honey they cultivate, lavender in particular, they also sell pollen and Royal jelly which comes from friends in the Alpes. They are particularly noted for their beeswax soaps, which they’ve been marketing since before I met them. They as others have been having difficult times with their bees, no different than commercial beekeepers in the states. Considered a large operation by french standards they try and maintain 550-600 colonies. Like in the states, confronted by a vast array of problems his father never had to deal with, the whole enterprise is in dire hardship. Not because there is no market, but because its become so difficult to produce products.
Another commercial beek friend is Guy Marigot.
Guy has been a beekeeper for @ 20 years. He tries to maintain around 250 hives between the Arles region and the Cevenne mountains. Besides honey they make jams and different honey based foods. Like Gaec, health issues besides the difficulty in maintaining hive numbers has put his enterprise into question. He doubts he’ll be staying with it much longer.
Arles open market is world renown. Here everything can be found, the sights, sounds, smells and aromas are fantastic.
Besides getting this next years curriculum put together and all the structure work for WBI, I’ll be visiting with other beekeepers and beekeeping entities. I’ll be meeting with the head of one of two accredited beekeeping schools here in the south of France, and visiting their instructional apiary. Also programed is talking with the IRNA, a beekeeping research unit doing current work on Pesticides and their relationships with bees. The highlight of my stay here will be meeting with John Kefuss, renown for his organic hygienic bees.
These episodes will be uploaded here as they occur.
Hope you and your bees are fairing well