Monday, 20 July 2015

Forest Hives and Chestnut Pests

I photographed these bee hives in early July on the edge of the Forest of Amboise, just off the entrance alley to the Pagode de Chanteloup. The beekeeper may have placed them there to take advantage of the Linden Tilia sp flowers in May - June. The allée now used to access the Pagoda is lined with linden trees.

Linden honey is one of my favourites -- not very dark but quite strongly flavoured, with the merest hint of amertume (bitterness) to counter the douceur (sweetness).

Local chestnut honey on the left, forest honey on the right.
On the other hand, the beekeeper may have been more interested in the Sweet Chestnut Castanea sativa in the forest, flowering June - July. It makes an equally high quality honey. 

The small twisted leaf in the centre has a gall.  
It should be the size and shape of the leaf to the right of it.
Sadly, the Oriental Chestnut Gall Wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus has arrived in France. François Botté showed me the evidence when we were conducting a botanical survey of a site near Sepmes just recently. (More on that later if I get time -- the site is adjacent to the new high speed rail line and is part of a compulsory scheme to mitigate environmental damage caused by the LGV works.) The wasp affects the trees' production of flowers and fruit, reducing the quantity of honey and chestnuts harvested by as much as 70%.


  1. Apparently Texas is importing from France a tiny wasp which lays its eggs in
    a type of reed which grows along the Rio Grande river which forms the border
    with Mexico. Those crossing illegally find the dense growth an ideal hiding place
    when the Border Patrol are on their tails. The little French wasps lay their eggs
    inside the reeds, and when they hatch they feed on them, eventually either killing
    the plant or at least stunting its growth. An example of a wasp's destructive ways
    being used to advantage. .

    1. That sounds crazy to me! The potential for causing a tropic cascade and destroying the entire environment sounds fairly high. Surely it would be better for the US authorities to be less paranoid about Mexicans and South Americans who want to work, and combat the problem by a) introducing more sensible immigration laws which allow a reasonable number to enter legally and b) convincing US citizens not to hire illegals.

    2. OK. I've just looked this up. The reed is Arundo, a non-native invasive. The issue is its water consumption and rapid dominance of areas where it occurs at the expense of the native vegetation. No mention of Mexican illegals in the two papers I scanned, but I am sure the US authorities are rubbing their hands with glee at the serendipity of it all.

  2. There is absolute paranoia here in Texas about illegal border
    crossing. Actually I believe the flow has diminished considerably
    because the Mexican economy has improved so much. But the
    cry of "Close the Border" goes on. The story I heard on the news
    didn't mention the environmental issues, but you're right about the
    fact that the authorities must be delighted with the prospects. There
    was mention of the fact that extensive research had shown that the
    wasps were certain to confine their destructive ways to the reeds.
    Time will tell.

    1. They were released in 2008-09 and have multiplied well according to what I read. No sign of them doing a cane toad. Hopefully they'll be a cactoblastis style success.

  3. Just got around to reading yesterday's post 8:30am posts...
    yummy hunny... both the pictured ones are in my favourites box...
    forest honey is my preferred taste of the two... simply because some chataigne can be so bitter!
    Best I ever tasted was a "chataigne et mure", bought from the Maison du Parc.
    I didn't photograph labels then... and they dropped his honey in favour of the current producer....
    or he retired and they had to find someone else.
    Never tasted Lime honey... must, obviously.

    Martin and Denise have a problem.... I wonder if it will apply to other beekeepers....
    the honey has set in the comb and they cannot spin it out...
    but they are selling chunks of comb at a very reasonable price...
    and it is very tasty...
    just made some toast to have some on!!
    Also I have one of Martin's moth-traps here ready to give it a go....
    I'll let you know how it goes...

    As an aside on Sheila's "migration topic"... the only real way to stop mass migration is to make it nicer/safer for people to stay in their own country... very few of them actually want to leave...
    and your comment about easier laws and not employing illegals applies to the UK equally!
    BUT... since when has common sense ever raised it's head in a politician's mindset??

    1. I seem to remember canola honey is notorious for setting in the comb. Lime (linden) honey is always expensive and there is never very much of it. Get it when you see it or miss out.