Alcee Mouton spent most of his career working at the Kaiser Aluminum plant in Chalmette. In 2003, he took up beekeeping and now produces honey at his home in Algiers. His wife Dorothy is a homemaker who raised their nine children. Dorothy describes Alcee as "the active type," explaining that at age 92 he still mows their lawn. The couple can be found most Saturday mornings at the downtown edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market (700 Magazine St.; www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org), where they sell their Paw Paw's Honey.
Are bee stings unavoidable in your business?
Alcee: You get stung, that's for sure. The main thing is your outfit. The minute you forget one piece of it — it never fails — there's a bee in there that will get you. I just try to keep them off my face no matter what. Otherwise, I don't mind it as much. People are always asking us about setting up a hive in their backyards; they all want their own. You just need to really want to get that honey, that's the thing.
Do you get much feedback from customers?
Dorothy: The people who come to the market want fresh things, and they generally know about honey. Some people use it for health reasons, for allergies. Sometimes people bring us their own honey to compare. There's differences in the color and taste.
Everybody is family at that market. Even if they aren't buying honey from us, they want to come talk. That's why we do the market. We're a little limited now at our age. When you can't hear, you don't want to go to the movies. So we do the market. It's entertaining, I'll tell you that.
What's the best part of the beekeeping work for you?
Alcee: For me, the most gratifying part is lifting open the bee box and pulling out a frame and seeing how it's all heavy and full of honey. You know the bees have done their job. They can fool you sometimes; you'll think you're going to get a lot and it turns out there's hardly any. But when you lift up the screen and it's so heavy with honey, you know you had a good harvest. — IAN MCNULTY