Naïjou / Naïji (apiary / apiary pens)

Naiji are usually found on the edge of cultivated areas, or forests at the base of sloping sites.

Typology Converted site

Period Various

Accessibility No

Visitable Yes

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.

Conditions of visit

Some Naïji are in the immediate vicinity of the roads serving the town, others were built in more or less isolated places.

All configurations possible, from roadside to steep paths.

Restricted tours (private properties)


Additional information


  • Masetti Luigi Nino, Les apiers de la haute vallée de la Roya, Mémoires de l’lnstitut de Préhistoire et d’Archéologie des Alpes-Maritimes, tome XXXVII, Editions IPMM, 1995.
  • Magazine Le Haut-Pays, Les Editions du Cabri, Breil-sur-Roya :
    – Lanteri Minet Eugène, Propos apicoles, N° 9 avril 1997
    – Masetti L N, Les maisons des abeilles de la Roya (1), N° 28 avril 1994.
    – Masetti L N, Les maisons des abeilles de la Roya (2), N° 29 août 1994
    – Masetti L N, L’apiculture dans la vallée de la Roya, N° 30 décembre 1994.
    – Masetti L N, Les maisons d’abeilles de la Roya (3) N° 34 décembre 1995.
    – Masetti Luigi, Abeilles, éperviers et ours, N° 67 décembre 2006.

Useful links

Non documenté.