Paysage formidable

Paysage formidable

Photo Extrem'Sud

Rucher de terre et de pierre.

Rucher de terre et de pierre.

Photo musée_du_miel / Flickr

Centaines de cases, une en activité.

Centaines de cases, une en activité.

Photo Michel Terrier.

Cases et piliers de bois

Cases et piliers de bois

Photo Michel Terrier

Ruche encore en activité

Ruche encore en activité

Photo Michel Terrier

Inzerki, the largest traditional apiary in the world

Considered the largest traditional apiary in the world, and arguably the oldest, the Inzerki apiary is a treasure of Berber heritage. However, it has remained a confidential excursion destination. The current layout dates from the middle of the 19th century. Built of earth, stone and wood, Inzerki's "taddart" was almost completely destroyed in the 90s. Rebuilt in 2005, it now houses very few active beehives in the hundreds of traps that hold it. make up. Brahim, the guardian, will welcome you there.

According to Gooogle Maps, it takes 2.5 hours by road to get from the Jardin aux Etoiles to Inzerki , leaving the national road that leads to Marrakech via Tazarine.

Built on the rock of the same name, from which one enjoys a panoramic view encompassing the lake of the Abdelmoumen dam, the Zolado hostel is an ideal base, overlooking the national road. You can eat there, either at noon or even in the evening. Notify the day before (phone number and email address below).

A shorter path

There is, however, a shorter path. It is necessary to leave the national road a little further, in Argana, without however that a sign which would be useful does not indicate the direction of Inzerki, then to take the path which passes under the motorway.

The track is fairly smooth, but is not recognized by Google Maps, which explains the route by Tazarine. A 4 x 4 is not essential, unless it has rained during the previous days, which makes the land of the Atlas soft, and therefore dangerous. Caution is nevertheless recommended. After 10 km, a sign in poor condition indicates the site.

Whatever your itinerary, the route is superb: dark red earth, lush vegetation, typical douars, impressive djebels. On arrival, park your vehicle below the road. The caretaker's house, Brahim Chtoui, is a few hundred meters away. It is recommended that you notify them of your visit before starting the trip.

A honey of a highly sought-after quality

Brahim is happy to explain the history, the functioning of the apiary, as well as the plants and flowers of the region.

Since time immemorial, a large group of Berber beekeepers have practiced beekeeping nomadically. The hives were moved according to the blooms, droughts and altitude, so that they were conducive to the work of bees. The quantity of the harvest was thus increased. The honey produced reached a highly desirable quality.

The fact of gathering each year in the same place encouraged these beekeepers to gather their hives and to create a permanent place. We can draw a parallel between these collective apiaries and the agadirs (igoudar in the plural), which are found numerous in the Atlas and the nearby Anti-Atlas, such as those of Imchguiguiln and Ikounka or that of Amassa . These fortified collective granaries were intended to protect the existence of the Berber populations, their crops, small herds and even bees from the incursions of neighboring tribes and thieves.

Up to 3,000 beehives

In Inzerki, some 80 families had huts, each divided into four floors of equal size, with a slightly larger free space above. The space below and above are used for ventilation and drainage of rainwater.

The bee swarm is placed in a beehive that is shaped like a long cylinder, made of woven reed or bark. The ends are plugged with a disc of chiseled palm wood with identification symbols corresponding to each owner. A small hole is made for the entry and exit of insects. Only one of these cylinders is placed per floor, staggered, which gives three beehives per square.

When the cylinder is filled with honey, the beekeeper unblocks the front and completely plugs the cell, giving a new space where bees can develop the combs. The cylinders and the cell are sealed with mud or dried cow dung.

Each family had several huts. When the activity was the most sustained, Inzerki had some 3,000 beehives. To the main apiary is added, on the right and 400 meters away, a second apiary which houses about fifty compartments where 600 hives could be housed.

If we consider that each hive contained 40,000 to 50,000 bees, we arrive at a total population of 120 to 150 million bees who worked in this huge apiary, which must have caused an audible roaring several kilometers away. !

Collapse and abandonment

Unfortunately, in 1990 and again in 1996, strong floods damaged the Inzerki treasure. Many huts have collapsed. The site was abandoned in favor of modern beehives, easy to move if necessary.

The Inzerki apiary was restored in 2006 with the support of USAID (United States Agency for International Development), as part of the development of rural tourism. It had already been renovated in 1980 with the help of a French association and subsequently in 1996 with the support of Unesco. Despite these attempts at rehabilitation, the apiary has not yet regained its former activity.

The renovated buildings unfortunately do not correspond to the original model. At the time, cedar was used, renowned for its resistance and imputrescibility, but expensive. The repairs were made with eucalyptus, much less efficient. Rainwater is also difficult to evacuate. The contractor who carried out the work was simply not qualified in traditional beekeeping.

There are only eight families who still use the apiary today. As soon as the funds are sufficient, the Taddart Inzerki Association intends to launch a campaign to restore the apiary in accordance with the rules of the art.

The caretaker offers mint tea, the tasting of honey and amlou, the Berber Nutella . He would prefer the visit of more tourists, to sell them honey and make them aware of the survival of this exceptional site. Before leaving, don't forget Hassan and his association!

The land where honey flows

The region is a beekeeping country par excellence. It produces honey considered to be the best in Morocco. For example, the Inzerki site combines many advantages: sunny and quiet southern slope, altitude of 980 meters, relatively stable climate throughout the summer, abundance of plants and honey flowers which bloom successively: thyme represented by various kinds, lavender, argan, almond, palm, mountain flowers.

The sale of honey is often the only source of income for local families. This is why the latter have created a cooperative in order to better manage this vital resource inherited from their ancestors.

At the beginning of July, the Honey Festival takes place every year in Imouzzer. This friendly meeting between the local population and tourists is intended to demonstrate the potential available to the region. At 1 h 40 from Inzerki.

To eat: Auberge Zolado

Phone. +212 661 171 906

To visit: Brahim Chtoui, President of the Taddart Inzerki Association for Development and Cooperation

Tel: +212 673 907 964 or +212 640 16 54 71

In addition to this, you need to know more about it.

At a little over 2:30   from the Jardin aux Etoiles, by taking one of the two direct paths. But there is a faster route, as we explain above.

In addition to this, you will need to know more about it.

At 1 h 40 h   of the Cascades d'Imouzzer