Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Bee House

I spent a fascinating afternoon yesterday on the edge of Promilhanes visiting 19th century France . This bee house or maison rucher was our goal, but the afternoon provided so much more. There will be other blog posts to follow for sure! Thanks to Maggie and Bill who live in Promilhanes, we had a private tour by their neighbor who is part of the association that bought and restored this very rare piece of French history. In fact, according to Dedou, our guide, it's the only example of its kind in the Midi-Pyrenees region. It was built as a one room house complete with fireplace. It's unknown if anyone ever actually lived there full time, but it's thought that a priest used it as a summer house when he came to check on his bees and the vineyard that surrounded it at that time. What makes this structure unusual is that its thick walls function as a hive for the bees.


Entering the walls from these odd-shaped openings on the outside (some with little terraces!), the bees were confined within the walls by wooden boxes with two levels, each having its own door on the inside...
Bee boxes from the interior of the house
Either the top or the bottom door could be opened into its own compartment. The beekeeper extracted the honey, leaving the other compartment's honey to feed the bees. He alternated boxes so to keep both the bees and himself in honey! There are fourteen of these double boxes on the interior walls of the house, divided between the ground floor and the attic.

Vanessa at Life on La Lune blogged about this rare house last year. Click here to see her photos and explanations. Since her visit, the restoration has been completed. All that remains is to hang out the 'for rent' sign and welcome bees to their 19th century home!
If you look closely, you can see at least four bee entrances in this wall. Two are to the left of the window and two are right above it.

You can visit the website of the foundation working to restore and maintain the bee house by clicking here. The text is in French, but there are some interesting photos of the house before and during restoration.

3 comments:

  1. THis is fascinating and I would loved to have photograph this place. You did a beautiful job!
    V

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  2. Virginia...it was difficult to photograph. The 'pretty' side (with the door) was hemmed in by a wall that was too close.Mid-afternoon light was a bit harsh for the outsides photos.Inside was light enough, but not quite enough to get a nice shot into the open bee boxes. I'm a bit constrained by my little Canon Powershot point-and-shoot! I'd like to go back when it greens up and take more photos.

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  3. Thanks for the mention and the link to my blog. I'm so pleased to see they have finished the restoration. I'll have to go back and have another look. It really is a curiosity and I was unable to find anything else like it in France in my researches.

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