Yves Ginat, Miellerie Honey

posted on: Monday, 10 November 2014

The happiest bees in the world  Image: Luke Burgess

In the southernmost part of Tasmania, Yves Ginat undertakes a special kind of beekeeping. He finds rare and special flowers - indigenous only to Tasmania - and takes his hives to the exact spots they are found in, and at the exact times they are flowering, to make the most unusual, pure, delicious honey.

His method relies on being acutely aware of nature and its rhythms. He knows when to visit the deep rainforest wilderness in South-West Tasmania amidst the hot summertime to collect nectar for his Leatherwood Honey. In a different micro-climate, not more than an hour away, he takes his bees to feast on a cocktail of wildflowers that grow on the bank of the famous Lake Pedder: the banksia, tea tree, peppermint and melaleuca found there make up the subtle notes of his Lake Pedder Honey

One flower he can't predict as well is the Blue Gum blossom. His special Blue Gum Honey comes on and off the menu at nature's whim because the enigmatic Blue Gum flowers in cycles and hasn't flowered for the last two years. But Yves' is circumspect about that: 'If there is no flower, there is no honey,' he said. 'Will we get some this year? We will find out in a few weeks!'

Yves' passion for beekeeping started in his home town of Bourges in Central France when he learned the craft by working for an elderly couple. He now shares his passion for bees with his young daughters and his willingness to share his skill became the subject of the exceptional SBS documentary The Passionate Apprentices (along with my fave knife maker John Hounslow-Robinson). He's named his honey Miellerie in a nod to his French heritage: Miellerie literally means 'house of honey' in the way that boulangerie means 'house of bread'.

With a yearly work cycle that strongly matches the bees he cares for, working feverishly over spring and summer and slowing down in winter when the bees hibernate, Yves' passion only grows: 'I can relax more over winter and spend more time with my daughters and we enjoy the honey we have collected. My young daughter whips up the golden Leatherwood with cream to make a butterscotch ice cream or I use the rich Lake Pedder with oil, ginger and red wine to make a marinade for venison.' 

One thing that doesn't change amidst the balance of busyness and downtime, is his search for new and interesting flowers to create new flavours. On his radar is a mercurial flower that can only be found in South-West Tasmania that produces a unique snow white honey. Above all, he says, 'I love my bees and I love to experiment!'

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