Beehives at Arrigas

Traditional Cévennes apiary

The beehives, installed in the village of Arrigas, are part of the local heritage. Dug into chestnut tree trunks and closed with slate stones, these beehives are sometimes up to 300 years old.

This type of hive required no maintenance and effectively protected the bees against cold or heat.

It was in 2008 that this ancestral beekeeping technique was revived. This was the culmination of a rehabilitation project, carried out for several years by Aspac, the Association for the Safeguarding and Development of the Cévennes Beekeeping Heritage, and carried out jointly by the Cévennes National Park and the Gard and Lozère General Councils.  Their use ceased with the world conflicts. With the men gone, the women had difficulty in lifting the heavy lauzes. On the other hand, the arrival of frame hives and the transhumance of the hives contributed to their abandonment. Another characteristic of this pilot project is the Cévennes black bee, currently being studied by the CNRS and INRA (on the pollination aspect). This local bee is less productive than other varieties but its honey is rare and much sought-after.

With a small yield of 3 to 3.5 kg (compared to 15 to 17 for a framed hive) this honey is very much in demand at large tables. It is a chestnut tree honey from wild mountain flowers, pressed and not centrifuged, as was done in the Middle Ages.

The apiary can be seen at the Grand champ stable, on the road from Peyraube to Arrigas. The visit is free and the place is indicated by signs in the Park.