WannaBee Pono Honey Store is All the Buzz
“I keep bees. If anything, they keep me,” said Priscilla Basque, bee keeper and co-owner of WannaBee Pono in Kealakekua.
Basque spent the last five years taming bees and cultivating honey before recently hanging up her retail shingle in South Kona.
Honey bees are the world’s most important pollinator of food crops.
Scientists estimate that one-third of our food depends upon pollination by honey bees.
In recent years, the planet has witnessed a decline in the honey bee population, thought to be related to such variables as climate change, pesticide use and the loss of biodiversity, to name a few.
“It all started when I an article about how the bees were in trouble,” said Basque. “I knew I wanted to do something, so I started learning about bees. I researched how and why they were in trouble, and discovered if the bees die out, humans are next.”
Wanting to do her part, Basque started out purchasing eight small boxes of bees for the purpose of doing research.
“At first, it was just about collecting data,” she said. “I wanted to learn about honey bees. I wanted to watch them. I wanted to see what they were doing and why were they disappearing. I was very intrigued by it. Then, all this honey started coming in and I didn’t know what to do with all of it. I kept giving it away to family and friends until they didn’t want anymore.”
Basque started taking her honey to local farmer’s markets to sell when her sister, Daveyann, suggested they go into business together and open a store.
“My sister actually came to me and said, ‘You know, we have this space. Why don’t you sell your honey there, then you don’t have to go to the farmer’s markets,’” I loved the idea, so I completely remodeled the location, opened shop and here we are. I’m really grateful.”
Honey is essentially dehydrated flower nectar. Humans take advantage of the bees’ excess honey and collect it for a sweet treat.
“The bees are my babies,” said Basque. “My favorite thing about the bees is how they communicate and talk to one another. There’s definitely a unique vibration and energy that comes off of each hive. It would really be something if we could all be mindful of our jobs like honey bees—if we could get things done to the best of our abilities every time, all the time.”
WannaBee Pono’s best seller is their Sweet Shayde’s Tropical Mix, named after Basque’s young niece, Shayde Baker who passed away last year. Other popular flavors are the Kona Coffee Blossom Honey, Lilikoi/Orange Honey, Lychee Honey, and Lilikoi/Mango Honey.
“Honey bees are very complexed, ancient, talented and amazing beings,” explained Basque. “We need to respect what they do and appreciate what they give us, because they give us our life. They give us food. In one way or another, every three bites that we take of food is because of a bee. I don’t think enough people understand how impactful and how important this is.”
WannaBee Pono is located at 79-7407 Māmalohoa Highway in Kealakekua.
For more information, visit wannabeepono.com or call (808) 557-8064.