Last year, honey producers across the province experienced a hard season due to a mass death of bees. A recent article in La Terre de Chez Nous explains that in 2022, up to 60 per cent of bees died, as opposed to the yearly average of about 20-25 per cent. This was devastating for honey production. The main cause of death was the parasite Varroa.
This season seems to be off to a much better start, with a lower-than-average death rate among bees (about 15 per cent). The president of Apiculteurs et apicultrices du Québec, Raphaël Vacher, says that “The hives are strong this year, meaning that there are a lot of bees and they’re going to be productive very early in the season … the hives are going to develop super-fast.”
This is great news for local honey producers. André Librex of Le Lavandou in Franklin produces lavender honey each year. He explains that “Last year most of the hives were destroyed. We had no harvest and had to rebuild the hives.” This year he is feeling much more optimistic about production.
The use of lavender creates a unique flavour to Librex’s honey. “What drew me to lavender honey was its rarity in Quebec, since we created the province’s first lavender field,” he explains. The medical properties of lavender are also something that Librex feels passionate about; he says the shrub offers “the exceptional health properties of a natural product: anti-rheumatic, antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory.”
Le Lavandou has been growing lavender since 1998, making this season its twenty-fifth anniversary. Since its opening, those behind it have prided themselves on being an artisanal family business. They are also proud of never using any chemical products. Not only do they have a beautiful field, but a boutique as well, where you can buy lavender products such as essential oils, dried flowers, lip balms, and much more; there is also an art gallery in the back.
This summer, Le Lavendou will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. On July 9, there will be a special event to raise money for Les Aidant Naturels. For $15, guests can participate in a one-hour-long yoga class in the lavender field. Participants are asked to bring their water bottle and mat, and they are welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy in the field afterwards. Start times are 9 or 10:30 a.m.
Librex is hopeful that this will be a good season. He’s also hoping that there will be rules put in place about what products can be used on plants, as a way to protect bees and other pollinators that help with production. “We’re expecting a good harvest this year, and I hope that stricter legislation will be put in place to phase out the insecticides that destroy pollinating insects.”