Information on the Third Annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge

The third annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge (HNHC) will be held in conjunction with the Hilo Harvest Festival on Saturday November 10th, in downtown Hilo Hawaii. This year’s Hilo Harvest Festival is dedicated to honeybees and beekeeping. Beekeepers from throughout the State of Hawaii are encouraged to submit entries of their favorite liquid, solid, and/or comb honeys for judging at this event.

The drop dead date for submissions to the Challenge is Friday, October 26th. Anything received after that date will be returned to the sender unopened.  This means that to receive the forms you need for a submission you should contact the Challenge Registrar (Pattie at well ahead of time to allow her to send you these items through the mail, and for you to return them to her through the mail by the deadline.

The requirements to be considered a Hawaiian Natural Honey are:

  • Samples must be collected and bottled by the contestant from apiaries located in the State of Hawai’i.
  • No heat may be used in the extracting or bottling process.
  • No additives, seeding or flavoring may be used.
  • Honey may be “strained” (strainer mesh size no smaller than 500 microns) but not “filtered” (strainer mesh size smaller than 500 microns).
  • The honey should not be processed in any way such as “creaming,” “spinning,” “churning,” or other manipulations.

The categories of competition will be the floral varieties of the honey, such as Kiawe, Ohia/Lehua, Coconut, and others. Multifloral varieties will be placed in one of three “Tropical Multifloral” categories; light, amber, or dark. Certain unique categories of varietal honeys may consist of only one entry.

There will be both a formal judging and an informal public vote for the best honey. The formal judging will be conducted by a panel of five judges selected for their culinary expertise. They will judge the entries based upon the four criteria of taste, texture, appearance and aroma. For any entry to win a prize, it must receive an overall score of at least 80 out of 100. A potential of five awards (Best Appearance, Best Aroma, Best Texture, Best Taste, and Best in Show) will be distributed for each type of honey (solid, liquid, or comb) within each of the competition categories (floral varieties). The “People’s Choice Award” is given to the most popular of all the entries as determined by the results of the informal public vote, tallied after the public tasting.

All contestants will receive a summary of the judge’s evaluation. Winners will receive a certificate and a sheet of stickers that may be affixed to their labels indicating that they won an award at this year’s Challenge. Winners may also purchase a Challenge T-shirt imprinted with the words “Award Winner”.

The Hawaiian Natural Honey Competition is the only event of its type in the United States that we are aware of, that focuses exclusively on honey in its natural state, and which does not give a priority to appearance over other characteristics.

The goal of the Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge is to 1) increase public awareness of the superior quality of the natural honey that is available within the State of Hawaii, and thereby help Hawaiian beekeepers increase their profitability by increasing demand for their products, and to 2) provide feedback to entrants of the Challenge that can then be used to produce even better honeys in the future.

For further information, or to receive an entry packet, please contact the Challenge Registrar Pattie at

Kalapana Bee Buddy Festival

Join us in celebrating the first Bee Buddy Festival in Kalapana at Uncle Robert’s Kava Club, September 15, 2012 from noon to 4pm. Learn how to be a Bee Buddy and keep the honey flowing.

Living on Hawaii Island, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and farthest away from landfall, the honeybees, major pollinators of our food supply are vitally important to us.

We are facing a difficult time with many bees dying from various assaults, including virroa mites, small hive beetle, GMO plants and toxic substances on our aina and shortage of good bee food. As well, honeybees have been mysteriously disappearing across the planet, literally vanishing from their hives.

Known as Colony Collapse Disorder, this phenomenon has brought beekeepers to crisis in an industry responsible for producing apples, coffee, mac nuts, mangos, broccoli, watermelon, onions, cherries and a hundred other fruits and vegetables. Commercial honeybee operations pollinate crops that make up one out of every three bites of food on our tables.

Bee Buddy’s was created to provide information and solutions so everyone from keiki to kupuna can have a part to play in helping bring our honeybees back and making our local environment more conducive to their wellbeing. Plus, it helps us continue to enjoy the foods they so generously pollinate to keep us well fed.

Alison Yahna of Artemis Smiles will preview her trailer “Temple for the Divine Honeybee”. Alison says, “Artemis Smiles Honeybee Sanctuary is dedicated to restoring a reverent, loving and mutually beneficial relationship between bees and humans.  We practice spirit-centered beekeeping and direct communication with the Honeybees.  The bees have helped us understand why they are “vanishing” and what they need for their health and protection.”


We will be featuring bee products, bee movies (The Vanishing of the Bees), Talk story sessions with bee keepers, apiary technician Lauren Rusert from the State Apiary program, theme song, information handouts, seed give-aways, plus entertainment featuring Diana Aki, Princess Keli’iho’omalu, and a proclamation from Mayor Kenoi in support of Bee Buddies.

We will be introducing our new website:

Email us at: or call Star at 896 8658 for more information. If you’d like to participate we are asking people to come share their favorite uses of honey and bee products. ‘What are you doing with your honey’ is a new addition to our Bee Buddy project.

Star is available for interviews and to set up local Bee Buddy gatherings in your neighborhood.

Coming Soon to Pahoa – BIBA Hygienic Queen Bee Selection Classes

If you are an existing or new beekeeper, and are interested in learning how to raise hygienic hives that will be able to better defend against the pests that are currently decimating bee populations throughout the State of Hawaii, then please plan to attend the BIBA Hygienic Queen Selection class, taught by master bee keeper Jeff Ritchie of Winding Road Apiaries of North Carolina.

A couple of beekeepers remove a hive from my shack in the back of my house

This hands-on class will be held in the Pahoa area of the Big Island, beginning on Wednesday 2/8/12 and extending thru Thursday 2/19/12.

The agenda is as follows:

  • Day 1, Wed 2/8/12 –  Orientation, hygienic testing of colonies, setting up cell builders – 8 hrs.
  • Day 2, Thurs 2/9/12 –  Identifying hygienic bees, grafting from the best. – 8 hrs.
  • Day 3, Fri 2/10/12 –  Checking grafts / cull cells – 2.5 hrs.
  • Day 4-8, Sat 2/11/12 thru Wed 2/15/12 –  Feeding cell builders if necessary, and checking for webbing in the cell bars.  – 2 hrs.
  • Day 9, Thurs 2/16/12 –  Make-up mating nuclei at selected yards. – 2 hrs.
  • Day 10, Fri 2/17/12 –  Feed nuclei if needed. – 1 hr.
  • Day 11, Sat 2/18/12 –  Pull grafted cells from cell builders and put them into incubators, check mating nuclei for queen cells and destroy them. – 2 hrs.
  • Day 12, Sun 2/19/12 –  Place grafted cells into mating nuclei. – 2 hrs.
  • 14-16 days later check for mated queens.

Due to the duration of this course, it may not be possible for all students to attend all days.  Days 1 thru 3 should be considered mandatory for all students.  Days 4 thru 12 are recommended for existing beekeeper/yard owners, but all enrolled students are welcome.  Days 4 thru 12 will be videotaped, so that any students who are unable to attend all class sessions, can still obtain the desired training online.

The cost for this intensive hands-on training is only $75/person, with a 15 person maximum class size.  If you are interested, please don’t delay in making your reservation, as this is a one-time opportunity, and once all seats are filled, additional students will not be accepted.  Please contact Val Kimbrough at 769-1320 for further information, or to reserve your spot today.

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:

International Bee Conference Coming to the Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii’s “idyllic days” as a beekeeper’s paradise are over, according to Danielle Downey, state apiculture specialist,  leading to a “crash mobilization of Hawaiian beekeepers and supporters of the industry who are fighting for the survival of their bees.” In line with that mobilization, the international Western Apicultural Society is holding its annual conference Sept. 12-Sept. 15 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in South Kohala.

Big Island Bee Conference

Puna beekeeper Jenn Rasmussen checks a hive for the invasive small hive beetle. Apiary recovery following assaults by Varroa mite and small hive beetles will be a focus of the Sept. 12-15 Western Apicultural Society's annual conference at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The public is invited.

Downey is one of several nationally known apiary specialists speaking at the four-day conference that will focus on new research and bee colony recovery; the state of Hawaii beekeeping, its problems and successes; and alternatives to conventional beekeeping, according to Jenny Bach, WAS first vice president and one of the conference organizers.

“Beekeepers are scrambling to save their operations in the face of massive and sudden losses,” Downey said, adding there is “no easy fix” for honey farmers, queen breeders, or agricultural interests who are wondering what happens if they lose their crops’ pollinators.

Big Island Bee Conference

Larry Connor, PhD., will speak at the Western Apicultural Society's annual conference to be held Sept. 12-15 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The beekeeping columnist and Wicwas Press publisher will also present a day-long masters' workshop in Hawi on Sept. 16 on rebuilding the apiary after losses.

Bee specialists coming from the Mainland to give conference presentations include Jim Bach, president of Apiary Inspectors of America and for 25 years, the Washington State Apiculture specialist; Dewey Caron, PhD., University of Delaware Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology and affiliate faculty with Oregon State University, Corvallis’s Horticulture Dept. and a continuing researcher into Africanized bees in the Americas; Christi Heintz, pollination research manager for Project Apis m. (PAm) and the Almond Board of California; and Larry Connor, PhD., Wicwas Press publisher and columnist for both the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture Magazine. Other mainland speakers will be Randy Oliver, beekeeper and researcher who maintains the website; Serge Labesque, natural beekeeper in Sonoma County, CA.,  who teaches beekeeping at Santa Rosa Junior College and 2006 recipient of the WAS Thurber Award for Inventiveness; Sam Comfort, owner of Anarchy Apiaries who practices treatment-free beekeeping; and David Barnes. an expert on Varroa mite and small hive beetle control from Florida. Eric Mussen, PhD., University of California-Davis extension apiculturalist and five-time WAS president, will give welcoming remarks the evening of Sept. 12.

In addition to Downey, Hawaii-based speakers will be Patricia Couvillon, PhD., University of Hawaii-Manoa associate professor in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and the Department of Psychology, a 30-year researcher into the learning and cognition across species; Ethel Villalobos, PhD., University of Hawaii Honeybee Project researcher on sustainable methods for Varroa mite and small hive beetle management; Michael Kliks, PhD., owner of Manoa Honey Company, former consultant to the World Health Organization and president of the Hawaii Beekeepers Association; Jenny Bach, owner of Bee Love Apiaries in Pepe’ekeo and founder and director of the Honeybee Education Program and Honeybees for Farmers Project; Cary Dizon, Glenwood beekeeper and president of the Big Island Beekeepers Association; Ron Hanson, owner of Puna’s Best Big Island Bees and trainer of beginning beekeepers; and Scott Nikaido of the UH Bee Lab.

Big Island Bee Conference

Volcano encaustic artist John Matsushita will demonstrate painting with bees' wax Sept. 14 at the Western Apicultural Soceity conference at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The public is invited to take part in the 2nd annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge that evening at the hotel.

Conference field trips on Sept. 14 will offer a choice of excursions to a Kona queen bee farm in Captain Cook or Volcano Island Honey Company on the Hamakua Coast. Exhibits and a silent auction will be featured throughout the four days.

BIBA’s 2nd annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge will be held in conjunction with the conference, with the public tasting and awards announcement at the hotel scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Sept. 14.

The public is invited to the WAS conference. Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is offering a special conference and room rate of $159 a day; daily registration is $45 and includes lunch and refreshments. Registration forms are available at or by calling conference organizer Cary Dizon at 966-7421.

“It is indeed a very interesting time for apiculture in Hawaii,” Downey said, “so we hope you will join us for the WAS meeting to witness Hawaii’s unique beekeeping situation as it is coming through this crisis.”

The public may register for daily attendance at: http://www.bibahawaiibees.or/News/WASRegistrationform.pdf or for the entire conference at:

Two beekeeping workshops are scheduled on the Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17, following the WAS conference.

Author and publisher  Larry Connor will offer a day-long class, “Master Class: Rebuilding the Apiary After Losses,” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. This post-conference workshop will take place at Ka Hana No’eau farm near Hawi. The workshop fee is $50 and includes a copy of Connor’s book, Increase Essentials. For more information or to register, see

A two-day workshop of hands-on training with top-bar hives and in-class lectures by Sam Comfort  of Anarchy Apiaries, focusing on natural beekeeping practices will take place at Pu’u Wa’aWa’a Ranch in North Kona. There is an $85 fee for that workshop (some scholarships available); contact or call 640-0278 to register.

WAS is a non-profit organization designed to meet the educational needs of all beekeepers in western North American, including the western U.S. states; the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Yukon; and the states of northern Mexico.

Big Island Beekeepers Association Plans Expo to Tackle Small Hive Beetles

Media Release:

The Small Hive Beetle (SHB) may be tiny but it has wreaked havoc in Hawaii.

Federal agricultural experts currently in Hawaii are finding the insect attacking bee colonies here in quantities hundreds of times greater than they’ve seen elsewhere. To help beekeepers save Hawaii’s bees from decimation by the SHB, the Big Island Beekeepers Association will conduct a free SHB Trap and Equipment Expo on Tuesday, March 15 in Hilo.

Members of the Big Island Beekeepers Association remove a hive from my house!

“The Expo is one part of the BIBA plan to encourage beekeepers to plan for recovery,” BIBA President Cary Dizon said. “2010 was a terrible year. To recover, we must bring our SHB problem under control.” She said the use of SHB traps seems to be the best option for eliminating the pests. “Many beekeepers are working on ingenious solutions.”

Dizon is asking beekeepers to bring samples of their traps or other devices with which they have had success in eliminating the beetles to the expo and to share their experiences with other beekeepers there. Dizon asked for those who must leave their traps or equipment in place to bring pictures or diagrams to aid the communal effort to get control of the Big Island’s SHB infestation. She added the SHB is now a primary bee problem in Hawaii while it is a secondary bee problem in the rest of the U.S.

All beekeepers, hobbyists and commercial as well as those wanting to get started in beekeeping, are invited to the expo which will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 15 at the Komohana Agricultural Research and Extension Service Building, 875 Komohana St. in Hilo. In addition to sharing tactics for getting the SHB under control, the expo will provide the opportunity for beekeepers to network and partner up for bulk purchase of beekeeping equipment. Participants may also bring other new beekeeping equipment to demonstrate or sell at the expo.

The formation of a “Survivor Queen Exchange Group” is another goal of the gathering of beekeepers at the SHB expo.

For more information, contact Dizon at 966-7421.

Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us?

Media Release:

The Kohala Center invites you to “Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us?playing November 9 -11 at 7 pm at Honoka’a People’s Theatre. Queen of the Sun is a profound, alternative look at the global honeybee crisis from Taggart Siegel, award-winning director of The Real Dirt on Farmer John (showing in Honoka’a @ 5 pm on Nov 9 & 11). Special event night on Wednesday, November 10th with local beekeepers.