Antwerp restaurant offers lessons in urban beekeeping

Summary

Every week, Flanders Today surveys the world of local cuisine to fill you in on the best recipes for authentic dishes, not-to-miss culinary events and special eateries. This week: beekeeping workshops

Robyn Boyle on Flemish food and drink

Graanmarkt 13 made headlines late last year when it was chosen as Flanders’ best vegetarian restaurant by the influential French food bible Gault&Millau. But less known, perhaps, is that chef Seppe Nobels has an urban garden and beehives on the roof of the Graanmarkt shopping complex.

Here he organises several honeybee workshops during the spring and summer months. For the project City Honey, Nobels is working in close collaboration with the beekeepers of Boechoutse Honing, which regularly rents out honeybee hives to restaurants and other businesses.

“I placed bee boxes on the roof of Seppe’s restaurant so he could make dishes with the honey we produce,” Rik Janssens of Boechoutse Honing told Het Laatste Nieuws last year.  “Also, the hives are an easy way for many companies to work on increasing sustainability.” 

In taking on a couple of hives, companies can contribute to improving the living conditions of bees, which are in imminent danger of extinction in Flanders. “Bees can no longer survive here without beekeepers,” Janssens explained. “By installing the boxes, I hope to do my part to get the bee population back up to standard.”

According to Janssens, Antwerp’s bees have access to plenty of pollen from the blossoming trees of the many parks across the city, but they need a helping hand. We owe them that: Bee pollination is, directly and indirectly, responsible for 30% of our food.

Graanmarkt 13’s City Honey initiative offers not only a rare opportunity to see a beehive up close, but also to taste a specially prepared honey menu. Participants are invited to enjoy a relaxed aperitif with starters before pulling on the appropriate protective wear to try their hand at beekeeping. After the workshop, a honey-based main course and equally sweet dessert await the novice beekeepers.

The whole experience costs €65 per person, plus an optional €25 for wine pairings. The small group workshops are held every two weeks on Wednesdays, from the end of April through the end of July. For more information and to register, send an email to welcome@graanmarkt13.be.

It is, of course, also possible to discover the world of honeybee keeping directly from the bee yard at Boechoutse Honing.

Photo by Frederik Vercruysse