Big Island Bees: The Best Hawaiian Honey
Big Island BeesAt Big Island Bees, located south of Kailua-Kona in Kealakekua, the bees forage on brilliant red ‘O’hia Lehua, spicy Wililaiki and delicate Macadamia Nut blossoms on the remote mountain slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa. Here, Garnett Puett and Whendi Grad have continued the fourth generation family business of beekeeping. With decades of experience to guide them, Garnett and Whendi’s knowledge and understanding of the relationship between bees and the environment help produce the highest quality honey available in Hawaii. bigislandbees.com:
We are unique among beekeeping families for our appreciation and display of the bees’ artistic majesty, in large part thanks to the artistic training Garnett and Whendi received while earning Fine Arts degrees from Pratt Institute and Fashion Institute of Technology, respectively.Big Island Bees produce honey artisanally and organically without heating, filtering or blending—because their top priority is to make the finest varietal, single-floral raw honeys available anywhere in the world.
What makes our honey so delicious?Each honey’s distinctive flavor and color varies depending on the species of flower from which the honeybees collect nectar. Each of our varietals is derived from a single and unique type of flower blossoming at different times of the year and in different locations on the island. Our three most popular honeys are derived from: ‘O’hia Lehua, Wililaiki (Christmasberry), and Macadamia Nut. Other factors that influence a honey’s character include:
Ohia Lehua honeyHawaii’s indigenous Lehua blossoms bloom in the Big Island’s Ohia forests in late May and June. Come July, we harvest the honey and immediately pack our entire production because this honey crystallizes within three weeks of being extracted from the hive. Tip: This natural crystallization process produces a white, finely grained, chewable honey which tea enthusiasts love. The delicate flavor does not overwhelm the taste of the tea, allowing both the honey and tea to be savored at the same time. Delicious!
Wililaiki honey (Christmasberry)The Christmasberry tree, a native Brazilian tree introduced to Hawaii in the early 20th century. Our organic Wililaiki Blossom honey is produced from these trees, which grow abundantly near cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean on the Big Island. In September, we move our apiaries (bee yards) to collect nectar from these blossoms. Then, we begin harvesting honey in October. Tip: Wililaiki honey has a subtle smokiness and peppery finish, with a light amber color. The spiciness is an excellent compliment to oatmeal or paired with cheeses and vegetables.
Macadamia Nut honeyA crowd-pleaser, our Mac nut honey has a floral and nutty flavor, velvety texture, and a dark chocolate color. The Macadamia orchards are located primarily on the southern and eastern part of the Big Island. In February, we move our bees into the orchards and begin extracting the honey in March. Tip: Pancakes for breakfast? This honey is a fantastic, healthy substitute for maple syrup. We’ve also heard from our fans that taking a spoonful right from the jar is even better than a spoonful of ice cream!
Visit our new bee museum and tasting roomThis just in! Big Island Bees opened their new bee museum and tasting room in July. If you’re on the Big Island, spend a day exploring Kailua-Kona and Kealakekua with a stop at Big Island Bees. From their website:
Enter the fascinating world of bees and beekeeping with a visit to our museum. Learn about bees and honey through text, poems, and pictures. See antique and modern tools our family has used to bring honey from our hives to the table. Watch bees in our observation hive, take apart an empty beehive, or try on a beekeeper’s suit. Finally, visit our shop, where we sell a variety of products derived from honey and beeswax.
All our existing single blossom varietals are available to sample, together with seasonal combinations of honey and local spices. You’ll appreciate our bees’ artistry as you taste Hawaii’s beauty.