Honey, I’m bee whispering in Lombardy

High up in the hills of Lombardy, south of Milan, are 400 bee hives dotted around fields, woodlands and edging vineyards. They belong to siblings Michela and Paolo who for the past ten years have created a life in the countryside of Lombardy in northern Italy looking after bees, showing a sincere love and caring of their bees. They produce some 4 tonnes of honey a year and just 20 kg of Royal Jelly, the special food for queens.

Bee populations around the world are collapsing under pressure from climate change, insecticides, viruses and the parasitic varroa mite. So bee keepers such as Michela are vital to support a healthy global environment and its biodiversity. Honey is also a delicious crop, very versatile in cooking and also eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon.

The Covid-19 pandemic has kept people away from the countryside and from disturbing their lives, says Michela and the noticable decrease in air pollution has seen flowers bloom stronger than ever and in great numbers. “It’s been a good time from bees, and nature,” says Michela.

Bee hives are coloured differently which helps returning bees find their home
A mass of wax scraped from a frame into a tank to be made into candles and other products
Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.

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