Beekeeping in France

Messages
5
Location
South of France
Experience
International
Hi everyone,

This is my first thread, so please be nice, and sorry if my english is not on point.

I'm a commercial beekeeper located in the south of the French alps, near Provence ( between Grenoble and Marseille, for those who knew a little bit of France's geography)
I'm 29 years old and owned more or less 250 hives ( which is a little/medium size of beekeeping farm here ). I ve started my own compagny 4 years ago, and for the past ten years, i worked on different farms around the country.

In the south of France, there is both users of langstroth and dadant hives. Personnaly I use Dadant hives with 10 frames . Mostly, we use 1/2 dadant box has a honey chamber.


buech.JPG

There is different honey flow trough the season that we try to reach. In march, the beginning of spring, i move my hives on "scrubland", a semi desertic mediterannean type of land wich we call " garrigues". In those type of places, it is possible to make Rosemary honey, and rarely thyme honey.

Then, we have the choice of moving hives on north, trying to make acacia honey, or we can move to the mountains meadows.
In june, we make chestnut honey, and just after that, take place the last and the most important honey flow of the season, the most emblematic honey of our region, the lavender honey.

Chestnut blooming
chatainier.JPG

Lavender field on the Valensole Plateau
lavande.JPG

For breeding, i have 1/2 dadant frame type of nucleus, called "haussettes". I mostly work with buckfast type of bees, every year I buy F0 queens to commercial breeders in Germany and Holland mostly.
haussettes.JPG

To move hives, I work with a spanish crane (apijuneda), that is veru useful, and my truck is a volkswagen Crafter ( 3.5 T)

grue.JPG

Than you very much, if you have any questions or commentary about beekeeping in France, I will try to respond on anything i can.
Sorry in advance if I ask obvious questions about beekeeping in NZ but i'm curious and there is plenty of things I don't know about.
 
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Bron

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Gisborne
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Welcome to the Forum Gaspard. Your English is great! It’s always really interesting to read about beekeeping methods.
 
Messages
5
Location
South of France
Experience
International
In april, a huge part of French beekeepers put there hives on the rapeseed fields. Since last years, I don't because now I 'm certified organic, so I can't make rapeseed honey, because there is very few organic fields of rapeseed. But this is one of the most produced honey in France, and a very good way to grow your hives ( but there is a high risk of swarming of course )
colza.JPG
 
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bighands

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West Coast
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In april, a huge part of French beekeepers put there hives on the rapeseed fields. Since last years, I don't because now I 'm certified organic, so I can't make rapeseed honey, because there is very few organic fields of rapeseed. But this is one of the most produced honey in France, and a very good way to grow your hives ( but there is a high risk of swarming of course )
View attachment 164
SO do you feed sugar? Are the queens you buy in organically certified? Thanks for all your information, your English is great.
 
Messages
5
Location
South of France
Experience
International
Thanks guys.

Yes, I give a little bit of organic sugar , about 5 kg / hive / year ( it is an average number some of them are not fed at all, it is mainly the new swarms). The queens I buy, both for F0 or F1 queens are not organically certified. Because the rule book of european organic certification allow 20 % of non organic queens that you can buy each year. ( This because there is very few organic queen breeder for the moment )

For disease and pests, the N°1 problem here is varroa. Personnaly, I use a method develloped in Italy, that spread here since few years.
The principle is to put the queen in a cage for 21 days after the last honey crop, and then where there is no more brood, release the queen and put between the frames an oxalic acid/sugar solution. It is a method that consume time, but very effective.
A lot of organic beekeepers make their own oxalic acid/ glycerin strips, but there is a big controverse nowadays because the governement don't want us do to that and they want to sanctionned both the beekeepers and the associations who make the tests and research about it ( this due to the pressure of pharmaceutic firms lobbying )
 

kaihoka

Bronze
Messages
43
Location
whanganui inlet
Experience
Hobbyist
In april, a huge part of French beekeepers put there hives on the rapeseed fields. Since last years, I don't because now I 'm certified organic, so I can't make rapeseed honey, because there is very few organic fields of rapeseed. But this is one of the most produced honey in France, and a very good way to grow your hives ( but there is a high risk of swarming of course )
View attachment 164
I have never seen lavender honey sold in NZ .
I have tried thyme honey and it was pretty strong .
What sort of honey is lavender, dark or light ?
 

David C

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Messages
5
Location
Rocky Gully Western Australia
Experience
International
In april, a huge part of French beekeepers put there hives on the rapeseed fields. Since last years, I don't because now I 'm certified organic, so I can't make rapeseed honey, because there is very few organic fields of rapeseed. But this is one of the most produced honey in France, and a very good way to grow your hives ( but there is a high risk of swarming of course )
View attachment 164
I too have put my bees on canola/rapeseed (South West Australia) to build up over winter but like you say swarming is really hard to manage as they build up so fast. Other challange is the honey crystalising almost as soon as its capped and the bees become very aggressive when on canola.
 

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