Be Free Bee!
We were eager to meet an organic local beekeeper when Vincent Bellande agreed to introduce us to his bees. But it wasn’t until we tasted his honey that we understood the real beauty of Vincent’s approach to apiculture.
Vincent’s goal isn’t to harvest loads of honey, only to harvest good honey. He says happy bees make good honey and for happy bees you simply have to respect nature. When you do that, the bees aren’t stressed, he says. Vincent doesn’t need to use smoke to calm his bees. He opens the hives without a beekeeper’s veil, his shirt sleeves rolled up, with bare feet.
“You see, they’re really kind,” he observes, “They don’t aggress at all.” The secret, he says, is to pay attention, something that comes natural to a retired racing sailor. “It’s the same trade really. On the sea you’re in the elements. With the bees you’re obligated to understand the elements. It’s the same thing,” he explains.
Unlike industrial honey producers whose colonies die after one season of production, Vincent keeps his hives going year after year. He always leaves them enough of their own rich honey to get through winter and rarely sees disease or sickness in his well-fed hives. He also lets his bees design their own honeycomb, refraining from inserting pre-made square inserts like most beekeepers. The result is beautifully thick and rounded planks of bee-designed honeycomb, not to mention happy bees free to design as they please.
When you taste Vincent’s honey you can taste the contentment. We hope you’ll come for a visit soon, to taste the sweetness for yourself.
- January 16, 2014