letter from switzerland: bee man of zermatt

I got this letter from my Aunt Daphne in Zermatt…

color-coded hive entrances to the beehouse
Leander opens a cabinet door to show one of his 30 or so hives inside the beehouse

Due to the short nectar flow season, even a productive, hard-foraging Swiss hive yields an average of only 20 lbs of honey a year for the beekeeper to rob, which is much less than hives in the more temperate climes of Brooklyn.  Swiss bees gather nectar from dandelions, fruit trees, rape, robinias, sweet chestnuts, as well as various coniferous trees. The honey is just as sweet as un petit chamoix.

swiss sweets bought in zermatt

Leander also runs a wonderful restaurant on the mountainside in Zermatt, where Aunt Daphne likes to lunch on mushroom soup served with pastry on top, veal, rostis… and lots of wine.

cousin George admires from bottom to top, 1 brood chamber and 2 honey supers

Beehouses like Leander’s are found mostly in Europe, particularly cold places like the Swiss Alps, Slovenia, and Finland. Beehouses help the hives survive the long winters and cold, snowy springs, and they allow the beekeeper to work with the bees regardless of weather. You can inspect, feed, or rob the hives without letting too much cold air in.

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