The naiji of Tende (apiaries), also found in La Brigue under the name Ca d’arbine, are high stone enclosures intended to protect hives against predators, thefts, herds and cold winds. They contained between 40 and 80 apiaries. They are found between 800 and 1200 m altitude.
These enclosures built in a slope, are generally rectangular at the bottom and rounded at the top in order to deflect the stones rolling on the slope, return the pressure of the snow sliding in the slope (arch effect), and promote the winter sun heated air circulation inside the enclosure from 50 to 150 m². The walls are 3 to 5 meters high. These apiaries contained between 40 and 80 hives. Most of them are built from uncut dry stone, but nearly a third have been built with lime mortar. The top of the peripheral wall is covered with lauzes (local tiles) protecting it from the weather.
The naiji are oriented between south-east and south-west to boost hives warming in winter.
One can enter the pen by a side door on the lower level, opening onto a small flower garden. In a corner of this low terrace, a small shed (ciabot) could be leaning against the pen.
Inside, the slope is set up in small terraces on which are aligned the hives. A lateral staircase makes it possible to go from one level to another.
Although it is found in the nearby valleys, the largest concentration of “bee houses” is located in Haute-Roya, La Brigue and Tende, The harsher climate than the average one in Roya valley, and the importance of pastoralism could have favored this form of beekeeping.
The higher temperature inside the Naïjou cubicles favored the spring laying of the queen and thus the early swarming allowing the production in the first year of a new hive.
Naïjou are generally not far from a water point (gully, river, spring) and from honey plants and trees. Their position at the bottom of valleys allowed the bees to forage and drink upstream, and then down again, easily loaded.