BUZZWORTHY HONEY

I’ve used Big Island Bees for years now. And while I knew it came from the Big Island (duh), I never really knew from where exactly. So, during our recent trip, I decided to pay them a visit.

Big Island Bees

To my surprise, we discovered that Big Island Bees is in Captain Cook. And it’s not in some crazy, out-of-the-way place either. Instead, it’s right off the main road down to Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. You know what’s even better? Unlike many, similar places on the Big Island, Big Island Bees is open six days a week. You can drop by anytime between 10 am and 4 pm Monday – Friday, and between 10 am and 2 pm on Saturdays.

WHAT TO DO

So, Big Island Bees says you can visit their museum, browse their store, and do a honey tasting without a reservation and without having to pay. That’s all true, though, know that the store and the museum are the same thing. But more on that later.

Big Island Bees

If you’re looking for an experience with more substance, you can book a tour. Available at 10 am, 12p, and 2 pm Mondays to Fridays and 10 am and 12 pm on Saturdays, the hour-long tours take you inside a real hive so you can see where the queen resides and how honey is made. But don’t worry, no special gear is required. All tours are conducted behind a safe, screened area. Prices for the tour are $10 for adults, $8 for Kama’aina, $8 for kids 9 to 18, and free for kids under 9.

HONEY VARIETALS

For those of you not familiar with Big Island Bees, they produce three primary types of honey:

  • Lehua Honey: a white, crystallized honey that's naturally thick and spreadable, with a delicate, understated floral flavor.  As its name suggests, its produced from Ohi'a Lehua blossoms from Ohi'a forests of Mauna Loa and is USDA Organic.
  • Macadamia Nut Blossom Honey:  Big Island Bee's darkest honey, it's made from blossoms of the Big Islands macadamia nut orchards.  It has a deep, complex aroma with hints of chocolate.
  • Wilelaiki Honey: also known as Christmasberry honey, this light amber USDA organic honey has a peppery finish.

In addition to the three above natural honey, Big Island Bees also makes a few blended honey:

  • Cinnamon: this honey combines Big Island Bee's signature Lehua Honey with organic, Big Island-grown cinnamon.
  • Vanilla: much like the cinnamon, the Vanilla honey combines the Lehua honey with vanilla bean.
  • Hawaiian Chili Pepper: perhaps the most unusual blend of the bunch, this one combines Wilelaiki honey with Hawaiian Chili Pepper for sweetness with a punch.

HONEY TASTING

The free honey tasting happens in the store/museum complex. Just ask any available employee if you’re interesting, and they’ll sample every honey varietal listed above, while explaining the nuances of them to you.

Big Island Bees
A variety of honey to sample

Personally, I already use the Wilelaiki and Lehua honey at home, so I already knew what they taste like. But I had no idea Big Island Bees makes blended honey too. And of the three flavors they offer, the cinnamon was easily my favorite. The cinnamon flavor is powerful, but not off-putting. It’s also unlike any other cinnamon I’ve ever had. It’s truly a unique product. The vanilla was probably our least favorite, as it wasn’t all that unique, while my wife favored the chili pepper blend.

SHOP + MUSEUM

The museum is comprised of very small displays, most of which are mounted to the wall of the store. While the museum doesn’t have a whole lot to look at, what’s available is interesting nonetheless.

As for the store, Big Island Bees sales all of their honey varieties, teas, a honey caramel, honey mustard, body care products, apparel, artwork, and products from select local producers. Not everything you find here is available on their website, and, interestingly, they do sell ice cream too.

Big Island Bees

FINAL THOUGHTS

If you’re on the Big Island with some time to kill, stopping by Big Island Bees is a no-brainer. Especially if you’re already going to be in the area. Their staff is incredibly friendly, while they produce a very high-quality, 100% local product. Just make sure you have a checked bag because you can’t hand-carry the honey home.

Big Island Bees

Big Island Bees
82-1140 Meli Road #102
Captain Cook, HI 96704
Ph: 808-328-1315
www.bigislandbees.com