Cherry Blossom Honey from Italy

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Anarchistic beekeeping offers up rare and wonderful cherry blossom honey

It turns out that anarchism isn’t only applicable to business. Some of the absolute best honey I’ve ever gotten my hands on comes from Mieli Thun in northern Italy who, long ago, announced to the world that they practice “anarchistic beekeeping.” 

Andrea Paternoster is the man who made Mieli Thun what it is. He was killed, tragically, in a car accident three years ago last month. Andrea began his beekeeping on his family farm, but gradually became a traveling—or as he came to call it, anarchist—beekeeper. The team at Mieli Thun has carried on even after the loss of their leader. They have their Futurist Honeys Manifesto in hand to guide them. (The title is drawn from The Futurist Manifesto by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, written in 1912). Mielle Thun offers only what they call “nomadic honeys”—honey gathered, as has been done for millennia, by people moving beehives to where the blossoms are out. All of their honeys are raw, unprocessed, and taken from well-managed sustainable hives. The folks at Miele Thun treat the bees and the countryside, always, with the kind of dignity I wrote about in the new pamphlet, “A Revolution of Dignity in the Twenty-First Century Workplace.” It’s worth reading Mieli Thun’s whole Manifesto, but I’ll highlight this:

Limited beekeeping has definite rules: it must be done manually, and industrializing production is difficult. The quantity of honey produced is limited to what the surrounding land can give, and not a drop more can be had unless mother nature allows it. Limited and seasonal, with reduced production areas and fewer blooms and inclement weather all pose almost insurmountable obstacles to production. Anarchist beekeeping isn’t bound by the usual economic rules, being the ultimate lesson in patience and following cycles. … The resulting selection of honey captures the pure fragrance and flavor of the hills, forests, and pastures of Italy.

Right now, cherry blossoms are out on the trees in many parts of the world, including here in Michigan. While many will admire the beauty of the flowers, only a tiny percentage of those folks will ever have the chance to appreciate the exceptional honey that those blossoms make possible. Happily, we have a limited number of jars of Italian Cherry Blossom honey on hand right now—if you like good honey even half as much as I do, grab one before they’re gone!

This special honey sounds even more magical to my ear when I say it in Italian—Mieli Cilegio— the latter is pronounced “ch” like chair, and rhymes with the Italian cheese Taleggio. Mieli Thun gathers it from three regions—Piemonte, Veneto, and Puglia. They describe it as tasting of almonds, prunes, and a touch of toffee. I get a bit of cooling mint in the finish, too. It’s thick and creamy and crystalline in texture, and, I think, it’s pretty darned terrific! 

What do you do with it? For openers, you can just eat it from the jar. Or toast some of the Sicilian Sesame Semolina bread I wrote about below, drizzle it with good olive oil, and spread on the honey. Grind fresh black pepper on top and add a spoonful of Bellwether ricotta from the Cream Top Shop. It also makes a great cherry honey soda—just add some to sparkling water and mix well. Great, too, on top of the Creamery’s handmade Cream Cheese! And of course, you can add a bit to sauces or baked goods! As I said, a spoonful is a super easy, all-natural way to boost your day.