Transhumance of bees
A mountain beekeeper, winter weather conditions force Julien to operate the transhumance of his high altitude hives. He takes them up to the summer pastures in the spring and brings them back down at the end of the summer period. This transhumance is done at night, the only time when the bees have a little rest. Another constraint: the snow. It is not rare that in winter, some apiaries are covered with snow. As the bees do not hibernate, Julien must then provide snow removal services, sometimes on snowshoes, to ensure their survival.
Each season has its own honey
For me, as much as for 95% of the population, honey … is honey. Big mistake. The taste of honey varies with the seasons and the goodwill of Mother Nature. This is where the location of the apiaries is essential. In the lower valley, the taste of the honey will have a dominant of chestnut, acacia or lime tree. In the high valley, rhododendron, wild raspberry or callune (Pyrenean “heather”) will predominate. The taste of the honey thus varies according to the time of harvest and the blooming of the surrounding flora.
A voluntarily limited production
Given the demand, Julien could easily double his production of mountain honey. However, he limits it annually to 20 kg per apiary (which includes about 25 hives) or nearly 4 tons. He explains this by the time he devotes to his hives and his desire to preserve the quality of his nectar. The honey is harvested in spring, summer and fall. Julien collects the frames, full of honey, from the supers and places them in a centrifuge. He then extracts the nectar cold to avoid any alteration of its natural character.