St John’s wort may be hated by sheep farmers but herbalists adore it. The flowering tops are harvested after they begin to bloom (traditionally on Solstice, June 21) and prepared with alcohol, and with oil, to make two of the most useful remedies in any first aid kit.

The P-O is amongst several departments that have been placed on ‘pollen alert’ according to the RNSA, (Réseau National de Surveillance Aérobiologique) responsible for the analysis of the content of the air, and the passing on of information to give some information about its health impact.

From the Albères mountain range to the coastal paths and ‘réserve naturelle’ of Mas Larrieu, Argelès has some amazingly contrasting landscapes. Here’s a chance to go off the beaten path with a guided tour for all, organised by the town of Argelès-sur-Mer.

Coming from the French word terre for “soil,” the word terroir originally described the special characteristics of a region, or piece of land, which gave different varieties of wine, coffee and tea their individuality. (Soil, climate, position, regional traditions….)

Born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and now living for the past 12 years in the Pyrenees Orientale, I work with plants, herbs, flowers and chocolate and enjoy mixing the two together when I am not painting watercolour mandalas.

Now the spring migration is nearly over, there are many interesting bird species to look out for in the PO. Some of our especially colourful and exotic summer visitors tend to be heard more often than seen – but what a joy when you do finally spot them!

We’re talking stingers again! Despite being maligned and feared by many, hornets are far less hostile than so-called ‘social’ wasps – at least towards us humans. Some hornet lovers label our native European species ‘gentle giants’. But we also have Asian hornets in the PO. How do they differ and what’s the problem with them? Lesley McLaren explains.

As the weather warms up, honey bees stir and the colony starts to grow. Eventually it can get so overcrowded that a second queen is created. And this triggers the original queen’s departure, with 20,000 or so followers, in search of a new home. They fly in a protective bunch around her. But she’s not a strong flier and has to make regular stops – usually in a tree – to get her breath back. Again, the workers will follow and gradually form a tightly packed, hanging mass around her (better described in French as, une barbe). Meanwhile scouts continue to search for suitable permanent premises.