"..a bardy view!"

Amish Honey and the Philippines Humble Bumble Bee

On a visit to Maryland, United States last year I came across an Amish market. To say the Amish community is outside the mainstream would be an understatement. They reject the modern trappings of life such as electricity, telephony, oil and the internet. They travel only by horse and cart, and all of them dress alike. Amishroadsign

The men have beards, wear white wide-brimmed fedoras, blue shirts, and dark trousers held up by the ubiquitous braces. The women wear cloth headware and attire straight out of a 19th century western about farmers. Their children are mini-me's likewise. Together with the Mennonites elsewhere, they are highly regarded by the local authorities, and even have road signs warning drivers to pass them with care. Anyone who has seen the movie Witness with Harrison Ford will have a pretty good idea of my descriptions.

However this is not about the Amish per se (indeed I found them rather unsociable), it is about their produce. Nothing fresher or finer had I come across in the USA until then, to the extent that I returned to their markets on several occasions.

It was the honey that grabbed me. They sell their honey in beautiful glass jars with handles, similar to beer jugs, and the wide rim allows them to add a chunk of honeycomb to boot! The honey is aromatic, with a bouquet sensation capturing a myriad of scent from a flower garden.

Fast forward now to the Philippines. Yes, this preliminary was all leading up to my favourite subject.

Heading out from San Pablo towards Batangas I saw a sign advertising honey.

For all my years of regular visits to the Philippines, honey was never on my list of priorities, not until I experienced the wonderful stuff thousands of miles away across the Pacific. What would it taste like, I wondered? So I bought some!

Now, it's important to know one thing about the Philippines – the freshest produce rarely gets packaged and presented in a manner to entice the buyer, and honey is no exception.

My honey came in a sterilised, unlabelled half-size bottle which had previously contained Tanduay – a very inexpensive, but acceptable brand of rum. (I know this because the bottle top said so, and it was embossed on the rear). Tanduay So unlike the Amish and their own jars and labels, the Filipino will stick his stuff in any receptacle as long as it doesn't leak. Nor are they bothered about advertising themselves on it.

So what was it like? I've done some research into Philippines honey since, and I've learned about beekeeping there. The bees are much smaller than their American and European counterparts, but they are equally, if not more, industrious.

I took a teaspoon, and as soon as it attacked my taste-buds, I was instantly transported back to Maryland. It was absolute nectar of the gods. It was more delicate, more pure. It didn't have any honeycomb pieces in it – the bottle neck is too narrow for that – but its quality was without doubt even more superior.

The Amish, who are not poor, considerable land owners (I bet they use cell-phones), and with considerably superior methods of marketing, could learn alot from the simple, understated and friendly Filipino who methodically gathers his honey, and sells it by the roadside without fuss or favour!

Whilst I will still buy my honey from the Amish when I'm in America, my affection and benchmark forthwith will always be for the humble bumble bee of the Philippines!



May 24, 2009 - Posted by | The Philippines


  1. wow! I can’t agree more.. Yep, Philippine honey is simply the best in the world. I’m glad you are loving the humble Philippines!


    Comment by naiza | May 25, 2009 | Reply

  2. 7SVzIK


    Comment by tomphson | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  3. Seldom if ever use it but might just give this a bash when I have breakfast with you one day.


    Comment by Spook Moor | May 2, 2011 | Reply

  4. Let me comment a bit about both your Amish and your honey declarations. The men do not all wear beards. Only married men wear beards (no mustaches) and the hats change color from straw in the summer to black felt in winter. Also, Amish may not OWN & DRIVE cars, but they most certainly USE them when they impose upon their neighbors to drive them around. Also, they do use electricity in places like Pennsylvania where milk producers are required by law to have electric coolers and processing machinery for milk sold to dairy processing plants.
    Honey is the only all natural sweetener in the world in its final form. Other sweeteners like sugar and corn syrup have to be refined while honey is100% natural. The flavor of honey is entirely dependent upon the flowers from which the nectar is withdrawn. The only way to alter that is to mix honeys from various flower sources. THAT can be done by Amish but otherwise the quality of the honey is entirely up to the flowers the bees are near when they get nectar.


    Comment by Jerry Lynch | June 8, 2011 | Reply

  5. You would not be saying that if the honey you were eating was from calamansi flowers like some I just threw in the trash or from the particular wild flowers I just finished eating. Honey in The Philippines is generally second-rate because so mush of it is wild and not the product of bees being placed in particular flower sources. The flower determines the taste of honey, not the bee & MOST CERTAINLY NOT the country where it is produced!!!! Manny Pacquiao is a product of his country but honey is a product of the flowers and bees. I even had a fellow bee-keeper in The Philippines tell me once that he often had to get “Caucasian” bees because Philippine bees are lazy. The reason for the “laziness” is because bees have flowers all year around and have no need to store massive amounts of honey & just don’t do so. Hence the need to replace the queens often.


    Comment by Jerry Lynch | June 8, 2011 | Reply

  6. Thanks for your input. My article was written with tongue firmly in cheek, and indeed was most complimentary on Amish honey. Whilst you raised some interesting points, I don’t believe that the Philippines bee is any lazier than any other bee, although working in the tropics they may drop tools occassionaly and have an afternoon siesta. As for my observations on the Amish – they are to the letter as seen in their markets, and I can only assume that all of them were married.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | June 8, 2011 | Reply

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