Results of The Second Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge

The Second Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge culminated in the Public Tasting at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel on Wednesday, September 14.  At the event, the public was treated to a special demonstration of encaustic painting, also known as hot wax painting, by John Matsushita of Volcano.

The Challenge has been sponsored two years in a row by the Big Island Beekeepers Association to promote the quality honeys produced by state beekeepers.

This year, the public was invited to sample forty-three entries from around the state to select the “People’s Choice” award.  Earlier in the week the samples had all been evaluated at a “Formal Judging” at which five judges selected for their interest in honey and discerning palate evaluated the entries by four criteria within two separate categories (solid and liquid).  The winners of the Formal Judging as well as the People’s Choice were announced at the end of the Public Tasting.

The results were:

  • Overall winner in the liquid category was a  Christmas berry, wild flower honey from Pahoa submitted by Ron Hanson, Best Big Island Bees.
  • Overall winner in the solid category was a  Ohia Lehua flower honey from Volcano submitted by Henry Iucker, Daddy’s Stolen Honey.
  • Winner of the People’s Choice Award was a Ohia Lehua honey from Glenwood submitted by John Hanson.

Runners up in the individual categories were:

  • Best appearance (liquid): a honey derived from multiple fruit blossoms (citrus, passion flower, avocado, various  fruit trees, beginning Jacaranda) from Upcountry Maui  submitted by Michael McCoy, Ainalani Farms.
  • Best appearance (solid): a Ohia Lehua honey submitted by Shawn Harris, Wao Kele Farm.
  • Best aroma (liquid): a macadamia, tropical flower and citrus honey from Kalaheo, Kauai submitted by Joyce Takahashi, Miki Macs.
  • Best aroma (solid): a mixed wild flora honey from Mountain View submitted by Patrick Weder, Lotus Buddhist Monastery.
  • Best texture (liquid): a albizia, citrus, palm and guava honey from Lower Puna submitted by Jen Rasmussen, Paradise Nectar.
  • Best texture (solid): a Ohia Lehua honey from Glenwood submitted by John Hanson.
  • Best taste (liquid): an albizia and palm honey from Kurtistown submitted by Cary Dizon.
  • Best taste (solid): a mango honey from Kalapana submitted by Ron Hanson, Best Big Island Bees.

Judges for the sweet competition were: Danielle Downey, State Apiary Specialist; Stephen Coffee, a food enthusiast working as a science instructor in local schools; Jane Horike, a  Hawaii County Economic Development Specialist who grew up with bees and a passion for local foods and products; Hope Johnson, raw food advocate and food writer;  and, Sonia Martinez, cookbook author and freelance food writer.

Cary Dizon, President of the Big Island Beekeepers Association thanked the judges for their hard work in carefully evaluating the forty-three entries which took over five hours to complete.  The judges were rewarded for their effort with gift baskets which included honeys from four of the best known apiaries on the Island:  Volcano Island Honey  Company, Big Island Bees, Mo Bettah Honey, and Weo Kele Farms plus Honey and Mele Macs from Big Island Princess.  These sponsors are the contest’s major contributors
to whom the contest organizers owe a special debt of gratitude.  The contest organizers also deserve recognition for all their work especially the contest registrar, Catarina Zaragoza and the other members of the Challenge Committee, Vo Collins-Toribo, Pat Chu, Cary Dizon, Sonia Martinez, Jen Rasmussen, and Wendy Westlake.  Others who lent a hand include: Maria “DiDi” Diaz, Margarita “DayDay” Hopkins, Mike Klungness, and Frankie Stapleton.

For more information about bees, honey production, and BIBA activities, visit the association website:

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