Yesterday we learned how ‘jellé royale,’ or royal jelly, is made. A high-end bee product prescribed by naturopathic doctors and used in many beauty products, royal jelly is said to boost immunity and slow the aging of cells. The stuff looks and tastes like sour coconut milk, but I like it. A tiny 10 ml jar sells for 20 euros, and Stephanie has no problem selling all that her hives can produce.
Royal jelly is fed to all bee larvae, but the workers feed a lot to the ones that they have selected to potentially become queen bees. These ‘royal’ larvae are placed in ‘royal’ chambers where they are fed exorbitant amounts of jelly. The rowed plastic cups we use simulate the shape of these royal chambers, which the bees will fill with the white, gummy fluid.
So with a plastic scooper and a headlamp we began picking out the baby larvae from the honeycomb, placing one larva in each of the plastic cups (shown on the right), and careful to avoid hurting them.
This picture is fuzzy, but you can see the large larva inside the comb. Yet we were searching for the most miniscule larvae possible, ten times smaller than a grain of rice. It takes a lot of concentration and hand-eye coordination! That afternoon we hurriedly took the larvae into each hive before the cups could dry out. In three days we will harvest the rows of cups and suction out the fattened larvae and the jelly. (The larvae get fed to the chickens.)
In the forest
Today was Saturday and thus a day off. Stephanie and Dan dropped us off at the nearby lake, and we cycled a two-hour lap around the glorious water, through forest and grassy fields, past sailboats and picnickers, campers and old farmhouses, while the graceful peaks of the Pyrenées watched over us all. We had a chilly swim and then a warm sunbath on the grassy margin. We cycled home and I made garlicky hummus from some harvested beans while Brett made a lovely zuccini, onion and chevre tart for our outdoor repas. We ate and gabbed as the sun slipped behind the foothills. (The sun sets at 9:30 pm, I’m still not used to it, I keep thinking its time for tea when its really almost bedtime.)
We found the cows!
Brett et Dany