Milea Bee Farm: The Hidden Honeypot of Batangas

Did you know that there are roughly 20,000 different species of bees. The species is split up into 7 different categories, and only one family out of the 7 produce honey.

This is one of the many facts I learned from Jack, our tour guide at Milea Bee Farm.

I haven't stepped foot on Philippine soil for almost 14 years, and my days were suddenly spent weaving through crowds of people that my mom knew personally, but most I never met. There was a lot of kissing, and hugging, and food (so much food), and a whole lot of love to go around. But when you spend time with family, your vacation is never really your own.

My main reason to travel anywhere is for the cuisine, then the culture, and scenic views were always appreciated. However, Filipino culture has progressed into being heavily influenced by social media. Businesses were popping out of thin air, promising you interactive museums, and the most Instagrammable photos. Posing and taking pictures in front of giant landmarks under the 90 degree sweltering sun was brutal, and trying to find the perfect angle and pose always drained me.

Thankfully, my mother's side of the family is hilarious, and laughing helped me stay up for most of the trip. I didn't really mind being whisked away from province to province, sitting in makeshift Balinese inspired birds nests, and literally circling every part of Batangas to view the Taal Volcano from every angle. Not really my cup of tea, but all of us knew my mother would be pissed if I didn't return with a 700 page photo album documenting every second of my trip.

I knew this was coming, so I did my research for a handful of must see's, and at the top of my list was the Milea bee farm.

Biology was my favorite subject in high school, and that branched into fields of botany, gardening, and eco-conscious living. Being a San Francisco native also helped with my love of composting, and I'm lucky enough to be in a city where most people are pro-bee. Along with everything in SF, Bee keeping classes were a bit of a pretty penny, but Milea's thorough tour only runs you about 250 pesos per person (roughly $5 USD).

The website mentioned the tour being around 90 minutes, with dessert and refreshments at the end. Apparently a lot of people knew about Milea bee farm, but the tour itself was pretty much unheard of by the locals.

The garden itself is tough to find if you don't know where you're going. It was tucked away behind private property, winding down a narrow dirt row heavy with potential bushwhacking. Luckily I had my auntie as a guide and we found it rather quick.

Jack, one of the tourguides, greeted us and apologized for his lack of English skills. In truth, his English was very good, and I'd be able to translate if Kevin couldn't understand.

One thing that stood out from this whole expedition was the dedication these gardeners had tied to the place. The whole area was only a couple of hectares worth of land, but the compound was built upwards. Milea bee farm didn't have endless produce growing from the ground, but what they had was definitely not a meager amount. Jack mentioned that the bees were the reason the vegetation grew so well, since they were a short distance from pollination.

Milea is a fantastic example of compact gardening, of turning a small space into a big idea. Everything was composted, up-cycled, and taken care of. Many of the fruits were made into elixer's and balms, mixed with the bee's fresh honey. The excess plant life was cleverly thrown into their worm compost, creating healthy soil for them to replant in. Everything was so meticulous and well thought out, like a small patch of Eden among a bustling city.

The native Philippine Stingless Bee was one of the highlights, forgoing the natural structure of a honeycomb, and creating beautiful pollen baskets instead.

Pictured above: Pollen baskets made from the local stingless bees. Their honey isn't typically used for dessert consumption, the color of their honey is a deep brown, tasting similar to balsamic vinegar.

The whole experience was such a treat. It lit up that childhood wonder inside of me, reawakening my dreams of being a biologist, making me forget for a moment that I would be unable to pass any of the core classes related to a biology major.

Another highlight was being able hold one of the frames from the honey super, adding in that Instagram fair that Filipino's love so much.

Picture of me stupidly trying to re-evaluate my life decisions. (Side note: Although these bees are capable of stinging, they're chill AF) 

The tour ended with lots of reasonably priced goodies to take back home, and some nice homemade beverages to wash down the heat. 

For a very unique experience that's pretty dirt cheap, Milea bee farm far exceeded my expectations. That 90 minute tour taught me so many facts that I probably won't be able to use in any future conversation, but the knowledge itself was enough to keep my excitement buzzing. 

Milea bee farm is not too far from Manila, probably a two hour drive into Batangas. Everyone usually comes out happy, the only complaint being that it's a bit hard to find. Jack explained that they intended the farm to be that way, so the people who search for it are the ones who truly care to learn. 
He also mentioned that light foot traffic is best for a business this small. 

If you like gardening, or bees, or if you just want to have a cool unusual experience for a small price, definitely try to make this one of your destination spots. Jack's enthusiasm made the trip even more memorable, and to this day I still remember his ardent expertise of about every inch of that tiny plot of land.

Right now, it's still growing little by little. The Milea Bee Farm's dedicated team is small, but passionate. They've got a lot of heart for something that's only a couple of hectares large, and they work flawlessly with local gardens to lend their bees so other parts of the Philippines can thrive.