Audric thanks for agreeing to do this interview with me! Beekeeping is a very interesting topic I’m sure that our readers at Apis Cera would like to know more about.
Apis Cera: Can you tell us where you live and how old you are?
Audric: I’m 30 and I live between Paris and the Champagne region.
Apis Cera: How and why did you get started with beekeeping?
Audric: I started beekeeping 10 years ago in Champagne, in my parents property. One hive, then two, then five: I quickly became a great lover and protector of the bees! I had this idea to start beekeeping while taking care of my vines, my organic garden and arboretum that I was beginning at that time. Very interested in everything that relates to nature (botany, ornithology, astronomy, etc..), starting beekeeping was a logical and exciting move after vegetables, Champagne, and trees!
Apis Cera: How many hives do you have currently and how many did you start off with?
Audric: I started with a single hive in the countryside and now ten, including seven hives in the heart of Paris!
Apis Cera: How many bees are in your hives?
Audric: My Parisian bees have about 60,000 roommates in the summer!
Apis Cera: What’s your favorite part of beekeeping?
Audric: I love the whole ritual that precedes the opening of the hive ( dressing in uniform, preparing the smoker with straw which is rolled into a ball, etc. . ) , I like the surprise each time I open a hive ( the frames are covered with propolis (or not!), bees are very nervous or quiet, all the sugar has been consumed or completely ignored ), beekeeping is 30 % of the work , the rest is up to the bees, the climate and the seasons ! Beekeeping is an art , a passion before becoming a science. I also like bees in Paris, this rural pause and timeless magic that is : put my beekeeper outfit on the roofs of the Orsay Museum, the Military School, with an overlooking view of the Eiffel Tower, down in the moat of the Hotel des Invalides, take a “bees bath”, the perfume of honey and propolis, and then putting my civilian clothes back … the contrast is amazing! I also like to surprise passers-by and tourists who sometimes are surprised to see me dressed as a spaceman working on my hives … which often make when their souvenir photo of Paris truly unique and unforgettable ! To see my girls, is actually my “weekly countryside break” which for me is essential in this beautiful city, but still very stressed . An hour of relaxation where I can just forget about the city. I do not like … the bad surprises, the weather conditions that prevent bees from working (in spring 2013, they barely went out foraging because of the incessant rain), the swarms that go in the city, and that I must catch up!
Apis Cera: Aren’t you afraid of being stung?
Audric: The bees do not sting when they are busy and when they are warned of your arrival with a smoker … I have specifically sweet bees: Brother Adam’s race, or Buckfast. In town it really is more than recommended! So, no, I do not have this fear, but I fully protect myself (clothes, gloves, thick socks) and I mostly fear for others, when the uninitiated are with me … You never know if they are allergic to stings! But frankly, I think it’s a good thing that beekeepers are stung sometimes: that’s how they learn! Bees sting are frequently due to an error or intervention that takes too much time. And they have every right to defend their wonderful production, even if I subtract the “rent tax” at a reasonable rate.
Apis Cera: Are you witnessing any colony collapse in your area? Does your hives suffer this phenomenon?
Audric: In town, we seem much less affected by this CCD problem (Colony Collapse Disorder). Probably for one main reason: there are no pesticides in Paris. CCD seems to be multifactorial, and the lack chemical treatments on rapeseed or sunflower fields is one big plus! I apparently have little problem in Champagne too. But I have too few hives to have a scientific, objective and quantified view. When I lose a hive is often a problem of colony strength and food before winter.
Apis Cera: What kind of flowers, trees or plants does your environment offer to your lovely bees?
Audric: Silver lime, Sophora Japan chestnut India, Mexico orange, hazelnut, rosemary, mahonias … Paris, with its public and private gardens, large tree-lined avenues, offers a wide variety of trees and flowers, native and exotic, far more extensive than we would tend to imagine. This enables a rich and continuing blooming season throughout the year. For more information, visit the Botanical page of my site!
Apis Cera: What’s your personal favorite type of honey?
Audric: Powerful honeys of red fruits macerated with a hint of menthol and golden color … Paris honey actually! I also like the outback honey and rosemary type found in Provence.
Apis Cera: Where do you see yourself in one year?
Audric: I’m creating a High-Tech hives start-up. More infos coming soon!
Apis Cera: Anything else?
Audric: NO, Paris honey is not polluted, laboratory approved! Pure nectar comes out of the flower’s nectary, and immediately foraged. There is no time for it to be contaminated by exhaust gasses or other. The bee filters its environment, and it is found that honey is more pure than in areas of intensive agriculture. Thank you for not asking by the way! 😉 My honey is on sale at Galeries Lafayette Gourmet, Boulevard Haussmann, and soon in the Museum d’Orsay and Invalides souvenir shops!
Apis Cera thank you!