Bees in Pouzols-Minervois have a great life and produce lots of delicious honey. Today we saw a great swarm that rested on top of the old chapel wall outside the courtyard at Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois for several hours.
Bees are very important for fertilising vineyards and fruit trees. Bees in Pouzols-Minervois are busy throughout the season to collect nectar, getting covered with pollen and fertilising flowers in the process. Did you know that 35% of global food production is linked to pollinating insects, such as bees? Bees spend the period from the first frosts in late autumn until the spring inside their hives. From March, the beekeeper starts to dewinter them by preparing clean hives.
Insecticides, climate change and varroa parasites are a major threat to bees in Aude. From amateur gardeners using over-the-counter weed killers to farmers dealing with insects and pests, a careful balance that aids gardeners and farmers whilst preserving bees is still urgently needed.
There are over 350 beekeepers in Aude alone. But bees in Pouzols-Minervois and elsewhere in the region came under severe pressure when insecticides were introduced in farming after the Second World War. It is particularly neonicotinoid insecticides that are to blame for a mass decline of bees.
According to the association of beekeepers in Aude and Languedoc-Roussillon (GDSA), production of honey in the region dropped from 35,000 tonnes in 1995 to 10,000 tonnes in 2014. They try to boost declining bee populations by feeding them glucose and by creating new colonies.
Government grant are available, but unless something is done to reduce the chemical threat bees face a tough future. If in the past beekeepers could leave a beehive to look after itself, these days threats are such that they need constant attention and care.
In recent years, the Asian hornets have also been found in Pouzols-Minervois in increasing numbers. They are bad news for bees, because they infiltrate hives and kill the bees. Our village keeps a precise count of how many Asian hornets are found each year to report to the national authorities.
Buying local honey
At Le Fort Pouzols-Minervois, you may encounter different types of bees as well as bee flies. Don’t worry! These busy little workers are far more interested in finding nearby flowers than in encountering you.
You can buy a range of locally produced honeys – including organic – and related products in local shops and markets in and around Pouzols-Minervois. By doing so, you support the hard work of local beekeepers who are working flat out – for very little financial gain – to help these friendly but essential pollinators.
Acacia honey, for example, is harvested in May and absolutely delicious! Other regional speciality honeys include shrubland (the famous garrigue) and lime blossom.
For more information about bees in Aude, visit the non-profit organisation Les Abeilles de l’Aude on Facebook or GDSA de l’Aude and Abeille de l’Aude. You can buy bee colonies, including fertilised queens, hives and accessories from The Narbonne Apiary, who sell 100 to 150 bee swarms each year.