The 2008 HPRG honey harvest!

Our bees have been working hard all summer, but why have we harvested the honey already? Read on…

photos : Bart Omeo


Yesterday we harvested the honey from the roof of the Eiffel Park Hôtel. For the third year running, journalists and hotel guests gathered to see exactly how it’s organised.

The day before, our bee-keepers Armand and Michelle came and installed a filter on each hive that allow the bees to go down to the bottom but not come back up. This allows each section of the hive to be emptied of bees before the harvest. Of course there’s always a few clever ones that don’t fall for it! As soon as this bee understood what was going on, she tried to get back to the honey and consume what was left…

With all but a few of the bees safely tucked into one section of each hive, we separated each level and taped them up to stop anything from being wasted.


The managerof the Hôtel de la Sorbonne bravely helped out too!

Back downstairs, in the hotel breakfast room, Michelle got back into her everyday clothes and gets ready to show us how the honey is extracted.

After removing a thin layer of wax from both sides, the racks are put into a centrifuge, and the honey literally spins out of them. This makes for some very pretty and strange photos…

Check out our little film of the centrifuging process below. Michelle explains that after being spun on one side, the racks are only half empty and need to be turned over and spun again. There are usually six racks spun at a time, but for demonstration purposes she shows us just three…

The smell that comes from the machine is wonderful, and as you might have guessed it creates quite a lot of wind and noise too!

So why was the harvest done in August this year and not in September as usual? Well, the hives were put up on the roof a little late this year because of bad weather (it was too cold and wet before). This meant that there was less food to be had. In fact, there is already very little food left for our bees, so little in fact that – attracted by the sugar – they started to go into a local bakery. Obviously we couldn’t let them bother out neighbours, so the harvest had to be done straight away. Now you know!

It looks like there will be about 70kg of honey this year, which sounds a lot, but it’s only half last year’s harvest. The bees are now off to their winter retreat in the country and we should be seeing them again next spring.