Ebre Connect Summer 2016 - Page 7

A taste of honey

LOCAL SPOTLIGHT
El Perelló has a proud tradition of beekeeping and the town ’ s honey is sold all over the world – even in Harrods

Honey is like wine ,’ says Rafael Muria Martí , president of honey company Mel Muria . ‘ You need to let it rest in your mouth for a while and savour the flavours on your tongue – the sweet , the sour , the bitter …’

On the table in front of Rafael sits a smart matt black box containing four small jars of softly glowing honey . This is his company ’ s luxury ‘ artMuria ’ collection of artisan honeys on sale in a select group of shops across Europe , including London ’ s famous Harrods .
Rafael is the fifth generation of his family to work in the honey business . Other families in the area took up beekeeping too and now El Perelló , a town that sits between the sea and the mountains near the Ebro Delta , is known as ‘ lo poble de la mel ’ producing , it claims , 60 per cent of the honey in Catalunya .
El Perelló ’ s bees are kept busy . Their year starts in early spring when the blue flowers of the rosemary are among the first blooms on the hills . Then the thyme and lavender need the bees ’ attention . As the weather warms , El Perelló ’ s bigger producers put their hives on lorries and follow the flowers , driving south overnight to Castellón for the orange blossom , or , in the heat of mid-summer , north to the base of the Pyrenees to make the most of the mountain flowers . At the end of the year the bees come back home where the
heathers on the hills surrounding the town flower longer into the winter than those in other areas .
While El Perelló ’ s climate and situation are important contributors to its success , the support of the town hall and the large number of honey producers creating a shared The Muria family started making sense of tradition are equally honey in the 19th century significant . The role of the beekeeper is celebrated as an art . Simón Albiol Llaó , a Perellonenc who started his own independent beekeeping business six years ago , says it ’ s his passion . ‘ Bees are magical ,’ he says , ‘ everything they do during their short life is marvellous . Beekeeping is addictive .’
TOURIST TIP : El Perelló has several honey shops , which also sell a wide range of luxury items , such as cheese and wine . To find out more about bees and honey , visit Mel Muria ’ s apiarian interpretation centre melmuria . com .
Ebre Connect , Summer 2016 7