Beekeeping-at-Camont, Round 2.
A couple summers ago I trapped? caught? coaxed? a wild swarm to move into my waiting hive- la ruche. I savored the summer apiarist antics while discovering the sweet taste of Camont, letting the garden wild up, and learning from my favorite beekeeper- Narcisse Ferronato.
The winter was hard, the swarm was fickle, bee mites attacked and the bees were all gone by the spring. Like many new things I’ve attempted- making charcuterie, growing a garden, and driving an 85 foot barge- you don’t always get it right the first time around. Part of the ‘getting it right’ (or just getting it done) & part of growing up (and older) that I’ve practiced at Camont is learning that once is for dilettantes. Pros work, create, and practice all the time. (Sorry, but cooking once a weekend doesn’t make you a chef!) So at the end of last year, I took my sorry/sad/empty ruche to Narcisse’s small bee farm underneath the Chateau Madaillan and left it with him to over winter for some loving care. Today I picked it up- 3/4 full of fat honey and healthy bees and ready to welcome them back to Camont’s bounty. I am ready to begin again and really learn to keep bees. So what’s bloomin’ at Camont?
Colza at the corner field; apple orchards down the street; kiwi, peaches, nashi and pears across the canal. And on our own 2+ acres at Camont, right now, wisteria, crab apples, flowering cherries are rioting. A couple dozen heritage plum, fig, apple, quince & peach trees are all flowering at once. Next, the acacias will pop, the roses will blossom and mint will start to flower. I learned to relax the garden and leave it a bit wild, a bit shaggy for the good of all. I think the new working grrls will be happy here. Plant more trees now! I planted my orchards, spreading them around the place, little pockets of fruitful activities over the last 20 years. Think long term, kids. It’s rewarding to be harvesting time as well as fruit and honey now. I didn’t know I would stay so long in France, but I did know someone would have profited from my acts. I think of this as insuring gifting future foraging rights for someone. Anyone.
From time to time, I’ll let you know what the Honey-Man is teaching me. These posts will be under a new Living-at-Camont section coming soon. For now, just look for the #beebuzz tag.
Bee Smart Lesson #1- Before opening the hive when I got it home, Narcisse told me to give a couple puffs of smoke at their front to let the p’tite darlings knowI was there. That it was me, their new sweet maman, and I would help take care of them. Now that I have read some more on whether bees have ears and can hear sounds, I think I will also tap lightly on the hive with a gentle bonjour greeting. Tap, tap tap-allo mes puces!
After all, I’d rather have someone tap on my door than blow smoke in my face…
Miel de Poivre- no bees? here’s a favorite faux honey confiture from my Keeping Kitchen
Pain d’Epices- an easy French classic honey cake perfect with foie gras