Monday, July 27, 2009

African Pollen Found in Parisian Honey

Pollen Nation
By Tracy McNicoll, Newsweek, 7/24/2009

…Olivier Darné is an artist turned beekeeper from the often-troubled Seine-St-Denis district just north of Paris's beltway. He has put hives on roofs and even sidewalks throughout these quarters to collect what he calls Miel Béton—Concrete Honey. Its varieties—the butter-colored spring blend; the darker, more intense summer crop; and the delicate, almost syrupy early-fall honey—are all as different as they are delicious. But Darné isn't interested just in something sweet. He is really after "pollen-gathering anecdotes," a sort of map of the city pieced together from the feet of bees. Armed with the urban portrait his little bees have be-gun to plot out, Darné wants to create a honey taste map with beekeepers in Europe to chart the "geopolitical tectonics of honeys." "The principle is to look at how human diversity—cultural and social biodiversity—can be traced in the honey," says Darné. "The more a city is a sort of palette, a cultural kaleidoscope, the more we can find markers of the cultural kaleidoscope in the honey made there."

He has already made some startling discoveries. Testers have been surprised to find equatorial pollens from palm trees in Darné's honey pots. There's evidence of a pollen that looks to be from the family of the baobab tree, the whimsical African colossus. "There aren't any baobabs in the Greater Paris area, that's for sure," Darné says…

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