a french garden

Reflections on nature in a garden in France

A Sweet Present


Miel en brèche

I got a present from my bee keeper friend Michel today.  He knows I like honeycomb so he gave me some “miel en brèche” as it is known in French.

It was up to me to cut it avoiding the metal strips running through it which serve as guides for the bees to build the comb on.

1-Cut up

I think I managed quite well, for a beginner.

1-Bread and honey

Morning coffee with fresh bread and honeycomb.

Empty honey frame

I thoroughly scraped around the frame so I would not waste any of the honey and then I put it outside for the bees to clear up the rest.

Bumble on frame

However, so far, they do not seem interested in my leftovers but this bumble bee is not going to pass over some easy pickings.

Earlier this morning I had read Emily’s post, “All about the hunny”, in Adventures in Beeland’s Blog,  explaining that she and Emma had difficulty extracting their honey.  I wonder if this could be a solution in areas where the honey was difficult to extract.  However, I am not a bee keeper (not yet).  I also love honeycomb and if some pieces of the comb mix in, it does not bother me, in fact I like it. I always remember honeycomb being something extra special and it was a particular favourite of my grandfather.   I wonder whether this is an unusual taste or not?

1-bee on breche


 Just as an update – some honey bees did come.

1-bumble on breche

And the odd honey bee deserted the Nepeta underneath to sample the honey.

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.

39 thoughts on “A Sweet Present

  1. Hi Amelia, the honey looks quite dark. We harvested JP’s hives on Sunday and the honey from that was also dark. Caramely. It definitely wasn’t the normal yellow sunflower honey. One theory is clover. I wonder if Michel has any ideas?

    Must admit I’m not a fan of honeycomb – an acquired taste as my father would say. A Marmite thing maybe?

    Bon Appetit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Brings back fun memories of boyhood when the usual source of honey was in a comb. Thanks for the memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooooo! Amelia, that looks wonderful dark hunny!
    And, like you, fresh bread, or hot toast and real honeycomb is one of the best things in life…
    no wonder Humans started to keep bees…
    now I have just got to go and have some dark, rich Forest honey on some white baguette….
    we’ve tea in t’pot to have with it….
    I’ll cook after!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think I’ve only had it once and loved it too… lucky you! 🙂


  5. What a lovely present, I do not think I have ever tasted it Amelia, sounds wonderful in French too.


  6. An acquired taste but my dad used to keep bees so I got used to honeycomb in with the honey.


  7. I’ve never had it but I do like honey.


  8. Wow, do you ever have a great friend!

    I too like honeycomb as do a couple people I know but many think it tastes of wax – they’re right of course, but that doesn’t mean it’s not wonderful!


  9. I like honeycomb too and you can certainly buy jars of honey with pieces in it. Nice present! Dave


  10. The perfect present for you Amelia. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten honeycomb but I did once attend a honey tasting which was fun! An hour and a half to taste and be tutored about 7 honeys


    • I’d love to go to a honey tasting session and I took not of what was done in the buona forchetta blog. However, I disagree with some of the tastes. Michel gave me Tillia honey and all I could say is that I would call it Ambrosia – I had never tasted anything so good. If I had to compare with another flavour I would have said light lemon was in it. Also I was given very dark chestnut honey by a bee keeper in Surrey and it was a wonderful deep sweet, caramelly flavor. I have only had one bad honey that I bought years ago in a market place in France and it had such a strange after taste I threw it away. I rather fancy becoming a honey connoisseur! Amelia


  11. I love honeycomb honey. I haven’t had any for years but it was always such a treat when we got it.


  12. That is a great gift! I don’t extract honey anymore, but rather cut it out, crush the whole mess and strain it.


  13. What a treat. I love honey comb. All we can get here are tiny squares of honey in the comb in a plastic box, at great cost and imported from New Zealand. When in Paris, we always have a session of honey degustation at the market stalls, and come back with a small selection. This year’s included a Miel de Carottes,( I didn’t know honeybees visited carrot flowers – I guess you’d have to be growing a crop for seed?) It’s a really dark thick honey which I’m tucking into now, having just finished a local early season pale willow honey. They’re all so different aren’t they? But I’ll look out for the Tilia next time,
    BW, Julian


  14. I’ve never had honeycomb but I do use bees wax in lots of home made cosmetics. Wish I had the space to keep bees 🙂


  15. Wonderful photos. There are a few reasons for not choosing the honeycomb cutting method. One is that we had used foundation sheets in the middle of the frame for them to build on. This is pure wax and not so good to eat. Was Michel’s comb foundationless?

    Another reason for using an extractor to spin the honey out is that the frames of wax honeycomb cells are valuable for bees/beekeepers the next year, it speeds up the process of creating honey if the bees have empty cells all ready to fill.

    The honeycomb does look absolutely beautiful though, what a lovely present.

    I feel a bit mean saying this but it’s not strictly good practice to leave honey out in the open for bees to feed on, because it can spread disease if bees eat honey made by other bees. For that reason it’s recommended to feed bumblebees a sugar solution if they need perking up rather than some honey.


    • I know it is recommended to feed bumble bees sugar and water and I do this. I must admit it was at the extraction demonstration that they said they put the honeycomb out for their bees to clear. Perhaps that would mean it would be the same bees that made the comb? But I take your point.
      Michel uses foundationless frames for his honeycomb. This frame had some vertical wires (three, I think) that could be pulled out before cutting. He also makes frames for himself with two horizontal wires to give them a start. He mainly extracts it for bottling as he does sell it. Amelia


      • Some beekeepers do it, but it’s not necessarily a good idea for the disease reason and also potentially it can cause robbing. It would be ok if they only had one hive but with multiple hives you can’t tell which bees will turn up. Michel’s method sounds really good.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. They are doing such a great job. Clever bees.


  17. Lucky you so much honey! It looks delicious, although my favourite bit is the bumble bee getting some easy pickings!


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