St Martin de Boscherville is a small town – more of a large village – quite near Rouen, but a world away from the bustle of the city. In many ways, it is much the same as any similar French rural community 30 or more years ago. Set in an agricultural landscape in a loop in the Seine, it has the familiar small shops for provisions, the cafe / bar, some old houses and barns, some neat modern houses and… a magnificent early Norman abbey, St Georges. It was largely spared from revolutionary destruction by being designated the parish church, as it remains today. There’s more to be written about the abbey, a favourite of artist John Sell Cotman during his Normandy tours.

The gardens are being – have been – restored, if not to their former glory at least to an impressive standard, with well-ordered flower beds, vines, herbs and fruit trees – staples of the medieval way of monastic life. And a hive. A truly splendid ‘Bee Pass’ chimney hive that stands impressively tall. Each facet has one or more doors for access to the innards. I have posted videos below that show the workings of this unusual hive rather better than I can describe them. These hives have been installed in a number of locations in France – not least the Chateau de Chenonceau – and Germany. I’ve no idea if there are any in the UK yet, but if not, there ought to be…

Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 7Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 9Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 2Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 3Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 6Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 5Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 4Beehive, St Martin de Boscherville, Normandy 1

Click HERE to go to the ‘Abeille Avenir’ website

Click HERE to reach the ‘Abeille Avenir’ Facebook page

All photos: RH


  1. Very interesting! You cannot really stand in front of a normal,working bee hive. Certainly I would not advise allowing the general public to approach one without protective clothing. The chimney allows the bees to enter without bumping into the public. I would imagine that the cost of one of these constructions with the glass viewing screen would be very high. I think insect hotels win on the economy side and also are more ecological. I only caught a glance of the bee on the flowers on the video but I think that it was not a honey bee 🙂 ? It must be the dream home for all the bees who have always wanted to set up home in a chimney. Amelia

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amelia. I’d never seen / heard of this sort of hive before, and as you say it is ideal for formal locations where the public have access. The fickle finger of fate has decreed that we should now have our own high hive in the roof-space. Small black bees 20 feet up using a crack under the eaves for a doorway. It’s inaccessible without scaffolding, a builder and an area of tile removal from an old and wonky roof, one that’s far best left alone. There’s a moral dilemma here, since the garden is purposely planted with bee plants (though these are not honey bees). Decisions decisions…


      1. You would need to take expert advice but I think I would leave well alone. I am not thinking of the bees here but in my experience workmen can often create more damage (memories of big feet and broken tiles.) Little bees do not sound like a danger (eg, stinging people) or producing smelly by-products (eg. owls,bats,ferrets etc.) Amelia

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m inclined to agree. There’s no danger of them chewing their way into the house, unlike wasps who ate their way into the kitchen one year. I used a can of RAID and the entire kitchen & contents had to be washed down. No more wasps, though!

        Liked by 1 person

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