The Perronneau Family and the Bee
by Eliza Ward
Experience and knowledge are everything when it comes to fine honey. Apidis SAS is a family-owned and operated enterprise, specializing in the production of fine honeys and honey products.
Established in 1890, honey has been the life-blood of the Perronneau family for over 120 years. Although the sixth generation of the family is still in its infancy, the fourth and fifth generations are working hard to produce amazing honey, under the constant tutelage and direction of the third generation, Gabriel Perronneau, and his wife, Madeleine.
Currently, Apidis owns over 4000 hives with between 30-60 thousand workers per hive. I guess that makes Gabriel Perronneau the biggest employer in France. Either way, Apidis is one of the biggest honey operations in France, producing over 200 tons of honey per year.
Despite their size, Apidis remains ever diligent about both the quality of their product, and respect for the traditions of honey production. They are passionate, first and foremost, about their bees.
As the Perronneau children grew up among the bees in Villy-en-Auxois, they listened intently as their grandfather told them about the mysteries of honey bees and how they make their honey; the invisible queen bee, the tireless and short-lived worker bees, and the fanning bees that flap their wings to dry the honey and then seal it up tight to prevent it from getting too moist.
He also talked about the role that bees play in the perpetual miracle of nature, as the honey bees collect and distribute pollen from flower to flower, making sure that fruits and vegetables get the cross-fertilization needed to product their fruit.
Those that know honey know that honey production is like wine-making; every vintage has its own unique flavor characteristics, texture, color and flavor. Its texture can range from liquid to creamy to crystalline. Its flavor can range from fragrantly floral to spicy and savory, depending on the pollen variety.
And the color can range from perfectly white to clear to dark, amber brown. Additionally, even a specific mono-floral honey can change depending on the year and when during the season the pollen was collected.
Needless to say, since flowers don’t bloom everywhere in France at the same time, and since all flowers do not bloom everywhere in France, the Perronneau family moves their hives by truck across France and back as the flower seasons change, and place their hives in pre-determined locations where the blooms and pollen are known, after years of experience, to be the most prevalent. This practice is known as pastoral apiculture, and is the key to not only exceptional mono-floral honeys, but happy, healthy bees.
Additionally, Apidis is careful in how they extract and store their honeys. Most importantly, the honey temperature must never exceed 35 degrees Celsius, the maximum temperature inside a bee hive. Controlling the temperature helps ensure that the honey will maintain its efficacy and health qualities. Heat is the number one enemy to the live enzymes that live in honey, and the live enzymes are one of the main health contributors, along with naturally occurring mineral salts, antioxidants, and vitamins.
That is why you only want to eat “raw” honey, why you never want to liquefy your honey in the microwave (only in a hot water bath), and why that stuff in the squeezable bear is always liquid and doesn’t taste like much – nor will it do much for you or your palette.