What do you do if you’re allergic to bees? If you’re brothers Emanuele and Filippo Perino, you become beekeepers, of course!
This counterintuitive career choice is just one of many things that the Italian honey company Le Querce does a little differently than most. Founded in 1998 by their father, Giuseppe, Le Querce is run according to practices that reflect a passionate love and respect for nature, not to maximize profits or make their lives easier. (As the brothers say, “We work as hard as the bees do!”) From nomadic beekeeping to organic production methods and holistic health care, everything le Querce does comes from a place of respect for the bees.
That might be why the brothers are so unbothered by their inconvenient allergy. Le Querce’s bees are about as happy as can be, with very little reason to sting the beekeepers that treat them well. “The health of our bees comes first,” they say. From their home base in the lush valley of the Anfiteatro Morenico di Ivrea at the base of the Piedmont Alps, the bees are free to collect nectar from a stunning array of wildflowers that grow in the ecological homebase.
Nomadic beekeeping, one of the cornerstones of the Le Querce philosophy, means the hives are physically carried from place to place to give the bees a greater variety of food sources. This is how they’re able to produce 16 different monofloral honeys, each made with the nectar of just one particular flower type. While it’s difficult to achieve—after all, bees don’t take directions!—they make these truly special honeys to showcase the sweet elixir’s versatile nature. The honeys range from a light, pale yellow (from the blooms of the acacia tree, with notes of vanilla and sweet almond) to dark, ruddy copper (from Piedmont chestnut trees, with a tannic, bitter note reminiscent of cocoa beans). Each has a flavor profile that is uniquely suited to pair with different foods—just don’t ask the Perinos to pick a favorite!
In addition to its deliciousness, Le Querce places a great emphasis on the health benefits of honey and honey products. They sell honey pollen, royal jelly, and propolis, all important byproducts of the beekeeping journey that are often wasted by companies focused on profit over process. Collected by bees on their daily journeys, honey pollen is the only food that sustains their tireless work. Its impressive profile contains proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals—all critical nutrients for a busy bee (or human!) to get through the day. Royal jelly is the food that sustains the queen bee, with a unique combination of proteins and fatty acids that has been shown to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and boost brain function in humans. And propolis, the glue that holds the hive together, is a potent immunity booster and skin soother.
While they’ve definitely had a scare or two—the Perinos tell the story of a time when, in the process of moving the hives, one crashed to the ground, enraging the bees who went looking for someone to blame. They fled the scene and escaped unharmed, leaving their non-allergic brother Gianmarco to clean up the wreckage—being able to honor and protect the biodiversity of their home through responsible beekeeping is worth the risk for Le Querce.