There's honey that comes in a squeezable bear, and then there's Big Island Bees Raw & Organic Honey. One taste of this liquid gold and you'll never go back to the generic, store bought stuff again. We recently had the opportunity to ask Whendi Grad, co-owner of Big Island Bees, a few questions about life here on the Big Island and how their delicious honey is made.
1. First off, how does one become a beekeeper?
My husband and his business partner Ben are the beekeepers along with a crew of about 4 others. My husband is a 4th generation commercial beekeeper, he has been doing beekeeping since he was 5. His partner Ben has worked with bees in Hawaii since he was a teenager, working for the bees kept in and around Parker ranch. My husband's family bought that operation in 1971.
The Lehua honey will become very rare, it is a very sad situation. Lehua honey is now part of the Ark of Taste, the Ark of Taste is an international catalogue of endangered heritage foods which is maintained by the global Slow Food movement. Luckily there is still a lot of Ohia forest remaining on the Big Island. Our bees are not located in the forest but nearby and they fly to collect the nectar.
3. How do you keep your bees happy and healthy?
Our bees are able to collect nectar year round and therefore never need to be fed artificially. They can forage in large undeveloped areas of the island.
4. What are some of your favorite Big Island activities?
I enjoy swimming, snorkeling and paddleboarding in Kealakekua Bay which is located 1/2 mile from our warehouse. On weekends, I love to explore and hike the island. Most of all, I love to cook using local ingredients.
5. Anything else you want folks out there to know about honey?
I would like people to learn more about the value of bees in our environment and to agriculture. I also would like people to understand that honey is an amazing product that can be used for a variety of purposes . It takes over 1,000 bees traveling over 112,000 miles and visiting 4.5 million flowers to produce one pound of honey.
If you would like to learn more about beekeeping, please visit Big Island Bees in Captain Cook where they have a museum, honey tasting room, and free tours.