a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

Fête des Abeilles


I promise; I promise, this will be my last post on behalf of Amelia who will return back home tomorrow.  However, I could not resist sharing with you all, my visit today to the Fête des Abeilles – The gathering of the members and the friends of the Association of Apiculture of the department of Charente Martitime, where we live.  By this time of the year, that is to say the summer solstice, we should have really nice weather, and we have had two or three days when the temperatures soared to about 30 C [that is about 86 F].  But sadly today was not one of those and although it was not cold at all, we had a drizzle most of the day.  But it did not deter the people and they came to see the main attraction which was the extraction of honey.  For me, however, the great excitement was something else that I had never seen at close quarters.

They had chosen an interesting location which is a center recently opened to study and shelter wild birds along a corridor of the busy motorway A10 which runs between Bordeaux and Paris.

The Bird Sanctuary

The Bird Sanctuary

On one side is a forest and the several acres of land was purchased partially because it has a lot of lime trees, in full flower at this time of the year.

Lime tree o "tilleul"

Lime tree flower or “tilleul”

Those perfumed flowers produce some of the best honey I have ever tasted.  For that reason, different members of the association of apiculture  have left some of their hives in that center.


The extraction was demonstrated by one of the members who had opened one hive and had removed a few of the elements.  He first showed how with a special knife the waxy coating was to be removed.


They were very keen to encourage and educate the participants, specially the curious young children.


Several children participated in the preparation of the elements for extraction.  They even placed the elements in a transparent extractor and were in a practical manner taught how the centrifugal force works.


But as I said for me the absolute excitement was being able to see her majesty the queen bee in her court. She is not normally removed from her hive, but this day when Michel had removed one of the element for transport in a glass hive, he had not noticed that he had also transported the queen.  She is in the middle, larger than the others with a prominent back – may be it is there she wears her crown!

Her majesty the queen bee

Her majesty the queen bee

Michel assured me that a separation of a day should not disrupt the harmony of the hive.    I was so absorbed by the events of the day that I did not notice until I was  leaving that there was another queen bee amongst us.


And so, or as they say here “et voilà”,  I  thank you for all the encouraging comments that you wrote for the last few blogs and I leave you in the good hands of Amelia.  Au revoir    – K

Author: afrenchgarden

Born in Scotland I have lived in England, Iran, USA and Greece. The house and land was bought twelve years ago in fulfilment of the dream of living in France that my Francophile husband nurtured. We had spent frequent holidays in France touring the more northerly parts and enjoying the food, scenery, architecture and of course gardens. However, we felt that to retire in France and enjoy a more clement climate than we currently had in Aberdeen we would need to find somewhere south of the river Loire but not too south to make returning to visit the UK onerous. The year 2000 saw us buying our house and setting it up to receive us and the family on holidays. The garden was more a field and we were helped by my son to remove the fencing that had separated the previous owners’ goats, sheep and chickens. We did inherit some lovely old trees and decided to plant more fruit trees that would survive and mature with the minimum of care until we took up permanent residence. The move took place in 2006 and the love hate relation with the “garden” started. There was so much to do in the house that there was little energy left for the hard tasks in the garden. It was very much a slow process and a steep learning curve. Expenditures have been kept to a minimum. The majority of the plants have been cuttings and I try to gather seeds wherever I can. The fruit trees have all been bought but we have tender hearts and cannot resist the little unloved shrub at a discount price and take it as a matter of honour to nurse it back to health. This year I have launched my Blog hoping to reach out to other gardeners in other countries. My aim is to make a garden for people to enjoy, providing shady and sunny spots with plants that enjoy living in this area with its limestone based subsoil and low rainfall in a warm summer. Exchanging ideas and exploring mutual problems will enrich my experience trying to form my French garden.

25 thoughts on “Fête des Abeilles

  1. No need at all to apologise for another post! They have been very entertaining. I like the larger queen bee’s outfit.


    • I know that you know your queen bee well. But for me it was so exciting to see her. I mean the “wee beastie”, as Amelia would say – although the other one was also cute! – Thanks for everything. – K


  2. Post away, it’s lovely to get the two different voices and perspectives. Amelia should be thrilled to have left the blog in such able hands.


    • I am so pleased that some of my “different prospective” and observations proved of interest or amusement. Whether Amelia was thrilled, I don’t know, but I am thrilled to have her back home tomorrow. – K


  3. Your guest blogging has been very enjoyable. Thank you.


  4. Thank you for some excellent posts!


  5. When you say you were unable to resist sharing this experience with us, I wonder if you will be starting up a blog of your own soon. 🙂


  6. Congratulations for filling the gap with some great posts!
    This one was particularly fascinating…
    I love the idea of a transparent centrifuge…
    every kid, from two to ninety, must have been fascinated to see that liquid gold flowing out!!
    Keep slipping in from time to time and posting your take on Amelia’s garden….


    • Her “afrenchgarden” is hers only, and I am proud that I could fill in while she was cuddling our new baby grand-daughter.
      Seeing the honey in that centrifuge fascinated everyone – as you say – but you know I loved the taste of the honey comb, and that is not something that I often get the chance of tasting. Thanks – K


  7. I’ve enjoyed your guest posts very much – thanks for filling in while your wife was away. It’s lovely how you both share an interest in bees… I wonder when the first hive will appear in your garden!


    • Thank you so much. I have found that as in most subjects, the more I learn, the more fascinating it becomes.
      As for the first hive, it is awfully tempting, and you as well as I will wait to see if Amelia is sufficiently tempted. After all the bees that swarmed in our garden are now safely housed in hive No 2 in Michel’s house.
      Thank you very much for your regular encouragement. – K


  8. That queen bee has a huge thorax. Thanks for posting the photo, she looks totally different than my queens who have a prominent back, but nothing like that, and mine have a golden tail (maybe that’s where they store their crown jewels!).

    You are an excellent photographer and story teller, I’ve really enjoyed your posts. Thanks for keeping this going while Amelia flitters hither and yon!


  9. Thank you, Laura. Your observation about the differences in the queen bees is very interesting. I understand that speciation in insects happens over much shorter period than the bigger animals. For me it has been very educational that our friend here has shown me different hives with bees that have altogether different behaviour. For example, some more aggressive than others.
    You are too kind about your comments. Amelia has a far better camera and she is more skilled in photographing the bees. But I have appreciated your encouraging comments on the bits that I have written for her. – K


  10. Thank you for a fascinating post; I have never seen a queen bee before. I’d like to add my congratulations to those of other commenters for doing a fantastic job with the blog while Amelia has been away; maybe you should start one of your own with a different focus, I’d follow you! Christina


    • You are so very kind, Christina. I must admit that I enjoy writing, but stories rather than just blogs. Yours, and other bloggers’ encouragement has given me the confidence that I need, to give exposure to my writing.
      I certainly feel that I know much better, most of the fellow bloggers that have commented on my contribution. They say that it is a small world, but Amelia is so lucky to have found such a great circle of friends. Thank you again. – K


  11. I’ve greatly enjoyed your guest posts too, for all the reasons others have given above. RH


  12. Don’t apologise for another post – the recent posts and thoughts I’ve tweeted about this blog have proved very popular – the last tweet being retweeted 50 times! Your posts have been appreciated far and wide!


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