There's just something about shopping at a true local Amish-owned business that is so much fun. Add some great-tasting honey to that, and you know I'm a customer for life!
"B" Honey & Candles is a little-known honey farm just two miles west of downtown Shipshewana, Indiana. I had the chance to visit and talk with owner Perry Bontrager about what makes his shop (and his bees) so special.
When I first pulled up to B Honey, I noticed right away that this isn't a typical shop. The simple white building was marked by an "open" sign and was right next door to an Amish home and a phone shack.
There were no electric lights in the shop (of course), but the room was well-lit from the windows as I was greeted by shelves of honey, candles, handmade aprons, and maple syrup.
Perry Bontrager has been keeping bees for over 30 years. He knew from a young age that he loved bees. In third grade, he would bring some honeybees for show-and-tell at school.
"I would go out with a jar and capture a few honeybees to take in for show in tell," he said. "I just loved the smell. I guess I always loved honeybees."
When Perry started beekeeping, he had just two hives. Now he has almost 50 hives, although at one time there were over 150.
"It's a challenge these days to keep the bees alive and healthy with all the new viruses," he said.
"B" Honey & Candles started in their home's entrance, but later moved into the shop building that it's currently in. They now sell honey, beeswax, lotion bars and sticks, chapstick, soap, cider vinegar, and soy and beeswax candles - all made from the beehives.
The shop offers all kinds of honey - did you know there is such a thing as "creamed" honey? It is more of a solid and won't fall off your bread if you use it on toast!
They also sell comb honey - exactly how the bees made it! To eat the honey comb, most will slice off small pieces and eat it on toast.
Another popular product is the beeswax candles. They make them into all sorts of shapes and sizes. They use molds to make them decorative!
"People like beeswax candles because they're unscented, and they burn cleaner, longer and brighter," said Perry.
Perry's wife and daughters sew the aprons, towels and pinchy potholders that are set up in the shop. They also have a selection of locally made jams & jellies and maple syrup.
I decided to purchase one of the handmade beeswax soaps and a jar of maple syrup. The soap is scented honey and almond - so good! I'm excited to try it out.
Before I left, Perry let me take home one of their lip balms made from scratch. He said people liked the lip balm better than Burt's bees!
After trying it, I have to say that it is simply amazing! This will be my go-to chapstick from now on.
When asked what his favorite part about being a business owner in Shipshewana was, Perry said, "I just love taking care of bees! I get to be out in nature. You never get done learning."
The next time you are near Shipshewana, be sure to visit "B" Honey & Candles. You'll love talking with the owner and learning more about the kinds of products that can be made from bees!
"B" Honey & Candles is open Monday through Saturday, 8am-5pm, and is located at 2260 N 1000 W, Shipshewana, IN. You can also call the shop (voicemail only) at 574-642-1145.
Want more Amish Country Indiana trip ideas? Download our free guide here!
Don't forget to book a room at the Farmstead Inn hotel in Shipshewana - centrally located to everything!