With all this talk about disappearing bee colonies, few realize that there’s one place in Paris where the bees have a thriving home: the Luxembourg Gardens.
Few know that there has been both a bee house (known as an apiary) and a beekeeping school permanently ensconced in the Jardin du Luxembourg since 1856, and it wasn’t until I met a few friends there last November that I learned about the Rucher Ecole. The school is currently led by Jean Pauchon, who learned that bees could thrive in Paris after temporarily storing a hive on the roof of the Opera House 20 years ago, where they collected an abundance of pollen to make honey. Pauchon’s classes include a beekeeping outfit (with a netted hat) and a smoker.
Those who’ve visited the Luxembourg Gardens can attest to the colorful blossoms found on the various fruit trees that surround the former Medici Palace — currently home to the French Senate. As it turns out, the bees are used to pollinate these trees, many of which are named after senators.
The bees at the Luxembourg Gardens are healthy and strong, with no signs of the well-publicized “colony collapse” plaguing bees around the world. That may be because they live in a pesticide-free zone. Whereas most commercial hives in the U.S. replace their queen more than once a year, the queen of the Luxembourg Gardens lasts for 2-3 years, a remarkable sign of health.
While you’ll see a collection of antique hives, the bees have moved to more modern housing, populating the wooden hives with copper roofs surrounding the gazebo. And who knew that bees need water on a regular basis? That’s why there’s a fountain in the bee area exclusively for them.
You’ll find the bee house located near the rue de Fleuris entrance of the Luxembourg Gardens.
Richard Nahem is a native New Yorker who now lives in Paris. A successful New York City event planner and producer of cultural events, he has worked with many celebrities including Sarah Jessica Parker, Whitney Houston, and Joan Rivers. After a teenage trip to Paris made him an instant Francophile, he visited the city frequently until he made it his home (in 2005). With 25 years of rave reviews from friends and colleagues, Richard decided to take his own private tours of “his” Paris public. His goal for Eye Prefer Paris Tours is to provide fun, adventurous, and exciting tours of Paris for the independent-spirited traveler.