Before moving to Panama five years ago, Emily Haworth lived in Princeton, New Jersey. She kept two beehives as a pastime. This Irish woman, had never worked in food, but if she considered herself a ‘foodie’ which is a person passionate about gastronomy. She is a botanist by profession so for her it was an adventure to discover the new tropical species in Panama. She has a 3.5 hectare farm called Boquete Bees in Los Naranjos, Boquete, province of Chiriqui.
People can arrive at any time, from 9 a.m. until 5 pm. The complete tour with a bilingual guide requires prior reservation and lasts between 2 and 3 hours. The available schedule is 9 and 11:30 a.m. or 2 p.m.
Emily tells us that people do not want long tours and that they want flexibility to be able to arrive when it’s convenient for them. Therefore you can visit the butterfly house, taste honey or do the coffee tour at any time.
Visiting Boquete Bees is one of the best family activities you can do in Boquete. And it’s one of the few that can be done if it’s raining.
Boquete Bees has more than 40 types of natural honeys. They take advantage of the biodiversity of the province of Chiriqui to put hives in different environments. The day I went they had 14 different types of honey to try, there are times when they have more and others less. People are surprised by the differences in colors, flavors and texture.
This tasting takes half an hour and is unique in the world. I asked Emily where she got the idea from and she told me that she does not know any other place that does it. Over the years she has had many visitors from all over the world and no one has commented that of doing a similar tour. She believes that the reason is because few places in the world have the capacity to produce so much variety. Boquete Bees produces between 10-15 tons of honey per year.
They have honeys with infusions that are medicinal. These are unfiltered raw honeys mixed with other ingredients such as ginger, cocoa, lavender, cinnamon and turmeric. The most popular is lavender, since many people have trouble sleeping, just like ginger that is good for colds. The turmeric one tastes quite for being a difficult flavor to digest. Emily recommends taking it with almond milk.
She says that many people with health problems buy honey from her and that her own health has improved. Many Panamanian Muslims are clients of her because the 16th chapter of the Qur’an says that you have to eat a teaspoon of honey per day. She also has Jewish and Hindu clients.
The legacy of Ralph Dessau
The idea of building a butterfly garden came from Ralph Dessau, a senior man from Denmark who retired in Boquete. He knew a lot about hummingbirds and was convinced that Boquete needed a butterfly garden. He told Emily that her place would be ideal to put it.
Emily told him she liked bees better than butterflies, but Ralph was insistent. He told her that he would go to work there every day and managed to convince her. He spoke five languages so he was a tremendous tour guide. What he did not tell her is that he did not know anything about butterflies or how to make a butterfly garden.
Ralph died at the age of 87 in a car accident before he opened the butterfly farm. At that time they only had the structure, however, Emily wanted to host his funeral on the site.
She sent announcements to all the children in Boquete to bring her caterpillars and she would paid them. The idea was to incubate them on site so they could be born. Then she brought a consultant from Costa Rica who saw the caterpillars and told her that they were all moths, not butterflies.
The butterflies in Boquete Bees
It is recommended to visit the butterfly garden before 3 p.m. If it rains the butterflies remain quiet due to lack of light. It’s a good time if you want to take photos, but do not expect them to be flying around you.
There are 1,500 species of butterflies in Panama. You will see about 200 species in your life because there are many that are very small. In addition there are many ecosystems nationwide including cloud forests, Caribbean, tropical rainforest, lowlands and islands.
They have about forty species that each one needs different plants as host. There are some that are more particular than others. Monarchs need milkweed and long-winged butterflies need plants from the passiflora family to reproduce. There are some 360 species of passiflora that produce a chemical that makes birds sick if they eat the cocoons. They do not die but it serves as a defense mechanism.
They are building a small cafe. She wants to make natural juices that are good for his health and offer medicinal food. It will be a space where people can spend time while selecting what to do.
Another project that she is starting is jewelry with orchids native to America and wings of butterflies. They sell honey liquor and are testing for a beer with honey in conjunction with Boquete Brewery. If you visit Boquete Bees you can get the complete collection or on their website. In the city you can get their honey in Pixvae, Organica and markets.
Stay in a Hotel in Boquete