Where is the best place for the humble honey bee to thrive? The countryside I hear you all shout. Wrong. The area with the most healthy and abundant bees are in our cities. In particular, a city that is very close to my heart, the city of light.
Paris has been named one of the world’s best habitats for honey bees and solitary varities of the bee who live in harmony with the city’s 2,241,346 human inhabitants. One of the reasons for this is the masses of flowers and fruit trees you will find in the city’s parks and window boxes, the sheer variety of flora and fauna that can be found in a city compared to the countryside is one of the reasons the bees love it so much, their varied diet of different pollens also create various different kinds of honey that you can taste the difference between, a hive in one area will create a totally different pallet of flavours in its brand of honey compared to another hive that is situated only one mile away! One of the parks in Paris that are truly cultivating a home for the bees is Jardin du Luxembourg, with its own apiary and a Bee Keeping school that has been running since 1856. Situated right next to an orchid of many different kinds of fruit trees, you will find the hives very close to the entrance ‘Rue de Fleurus’ West of the park. The honey produced here is sold every year at ‘Les Fête du Miel’ a festival held in the park where the apiary is open for viewing to the public, this event is held in September every year.
Another good thing about Paris in particular for the bees is that it is a pesticide-free zone, meaning less chance of the bees in the city succumbing to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and also meaning that unlike in the US where a commercial apiary will have to replace it’s Queen Bee at least once a year, the Queens at Luxembourg Gardens will last on average 2 to 3 years.
Paris has hives operating of the rooftops of some of its most famous buildings, such as the Opéra Palais Garnier, École Militaire, Les Invalides and the Notre Dame, but the locals don’t just let the bees be a singularly bourgeois buildings trend, a very high number of Bee Keeping hobbyists keep their own personal hives on the rooftops and in the courtyards of their own buildings. With such fancy places to hang up their hats, you can see why honey bees love Paris so much.