A Letter From Burgundy

January 2, 2017

Happy New Year from Les Volets Verts

035Happy New Year Everyone! We enjoyed some snow before Christmas and some very heavy frosts over the Christmas and New Year holidays which made Morlet and the rest of Burgundy look like Winter wonderland.


We have now enjoyed two seasons with guests at our own gite here in Morlet as well as managing a couple of other properties in Burgundy. We have welcomed many different people of many different nationalities and we have enjoyed some return visits to Les Volets Verts from guests who loved the peace and quiet and found there was also more to do here and in the surrounding area than they realised so returned to carry on exploring. We have just said good bye to some Paris guests who stayed here for a week over New Year with their young children to let them enjoy the countryside and fresh air after some recent pollution problems in Paris. The children loved the animals, particularly the donkey next door!

Our bees are settled down now in their top bar hive for the winter months and we are really looking forward to seeing them out and about in the garden in early Spring. We will have a second hive this Summer and hope to share some honey with our guests!



November 22, 2016

Bees at Les Volets Verts

Filed under: Bees,Honey,Les Volets Verts,Uncategorized — Lesley @ 12:07

Grandson kitted up and ready to help!Grandson kitted up ready to helpThe update on the bees as promised. In June of this year we purchased a small colony, complete with queen, from a beekeeper in the Morvan National Park. They arrived in a dadant box which we placed on top of our top bar hive and transferred five bars of comb and bees to the top bar. This way the bees were still able to access the dadant but only through the entrance of the top bar. We left the bees for a week to settle down and then checked on them. There was new comb and brood so we knew the Queen was alive and well. We brushed the bees gently into our top bar and put a Queen excluder under the dadant so we would be able to see next time whether she was in the top bar or left behind with the stragglers in the dadant. We saw her on our next inspection in the top bar and removed the dadant. We were very happy and more importantly we had happy bees who seemed to like their new home!
We fed them sugar water from late summer onwards to help them build enough comb and make enough honey to see them through the winter. We put in a total of 15 kilos of sugar (which is a very large amount of sugar water put in on a daily basis)!
We have thoroughly enjoyed watching our busy bees coming and going this summer and hope they survive the winter well. Next year we will set up the dadant box as a fully functioning hive and we are looking forward to comparing the two very different ways of bee keeping.

Job well done !

Job well done !

November 30, 2014

An Attempt at a New Hobby – Bees !

Filed under: Bees,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Lesley @ 16:42

We have had a very busy summer and time has just disappeared hence not spending much time on the computer! We had three lots of grandchildren visiting which was hectic but great fun and we have also been starting to build a new “maison des amis” in our former stable. As well as this we decided to take up a new hobby of bee keeping. We decided on a top bar bee hive  because it  is a simpler more natural method of bee keeping and the honey can be removed without disturbing the colony as much as some other forms of bee keeping. Now for the more honest reason – the combs are suspended on bars which are much lighter as well as easier to remove. Lifting boxes with conventional frames filled with honey can be hard going on the back!

Our first practical bee keeping lesson

Our first practical bee keeping lesson

The hive is simply a long box with slats of wood across which the bees attach their comb to. Ideal perhaps for the hobby keeper but would not be used generally by commercial keepers because the quantities of honey produced are lower. The environment in the box is meant to be very similar to the inside of an old tree trunk as far as the bees are concerned – hence being considered a more natural method. This old style of bee keeping is thousands of years old and is very popular in some developing countries as the hives can be built relatively cheaply and simply. We were lucky enough to have a friend who supplied us with some bees to get started. We did not know whether there was a Queen within the colony or not but if she was not there we had every expectation that the colony would rear their own Queen. We waited patiently but after a few weeks it became apparent that we had no Queen.  In this picture below the bees are being put into the top bar beehive. Prior to this they were left in their original home sitting in a box on top of our new hive so that they could get used to their new location. Putting the bees in their new ho   As our numbers of  bees started to rapidly decline, which is inevitable without a Queen, we bravely set off to collect a swarm from some friends who regularly seem to have swarms in their grounds each year. We brought a swarm back, left the bees to settle down quietly in the box that we had collected them in and then transferred them to the hive. We were confident that we had a Queen and hoped that we were now well on the way to having a thriving community of bees and perhaps just a few jars of honey…….???

The swarm

The swarm

We put them in the opposite end of the hive to our existing bees so that the two small colonies could “get to know” each other gradually but unfortunately they had a mini battle and we found some dead bees. The remaining bees in the swarm obviously decided they didn’t like their new home and flew off. We have since learnt that when introducing new bees it is a good idea to put a sheet of newspaper between the two lots of bees so that they can chew their way through gradually and get to know each other more slowly. As bees have  a short lifespan  anyway and without a Queen to lay new eggs  the colony was going to die out naturally. We decided to let nature take its course as by this time it was too late in the summer to start afresh again. A hive needs to have a sizeable, strong and healthy colony to withstand the rigours of winter. We felt we had already “let our bees down” a bit this year and the best idea was to restart next year, hopefully with more success for us and the bees.

June 26, 2012

Honey and Wine

Filed under: Bees,Food,Honey,Uncategorized,Wines and vines — Lesley @ 16:14

Nearly the end of June and as ever we are amazed by the rate of growth on the vines. How they can go from gnarled stumps (ceps) or twigs to full blown vines with baby grapes on in just a few weeks never ceases to amaze us.

April Vines


After some more rain and some more sunshine……



Three weeks later after even more rain and some more sunshine……



What does the weather hold in store for us this Summer and will 2012 go down as one of the best years for wine in Burgundy? There is many a viticulteur who would love to know and probably even more who think they know!

As we all know the weather plays its part but the terroir is so significant. A few weeks ago we were tasting in the Cote de Nuits area and there were wines from three different plots all within 100 metres of each other, the same method of production was used but the taste and pricing of the wines was extremely varied, more so than we could possibly have imagined!

We also love honey and buy it from local markets but preferably from Max Westby at nearby Sully:  www.mieldesully.fr

Recently we received a phone call from some friends to say they had a swarm of bees and did we want to come over and watch Roy, who is keen to to get a second hive up and running, try and contain the swarm.

Waiting for the bee keeper

The swarm in the picture above and below Roy getting the bees into a box ready for transporting to their new home.


Also in Pommard, at one of the apartments we manage, there was another swarm of bees but this time it was not very big and they did not wait around for anyone to come and relocate them!



Roy’s bees were successfully relocated after a quiet night in the cave and last week we had a bee party to celebrate the new hive with honey cake, mead and honey bee “butterfly” cakes.


Sometime we would like to venture into the world of bee keeping ourselves but looking at the huge number of dandelions we had in the orchard this Spring I can only wonder what our honey would taste like in comparison with other local honey producers!?