Big Island Beekeepers Host Honey Challenge

October 20, 2019, 8:54 AM HST (Updated October 20, 2019, 8:54 AM)
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There are 115 entries in the 10th annual Hawaiian Honey Challenge in Hilo on Oct. 19, 2019. PC: Vanessa Houle

The Big Island Beekeepers Association held formal judging for its 10th annual Hawaiian Honey Challenge on Saturday at the Komohana Agriculture Research Station in Hilo.

The annual statewide contest, a celebration of the uniqueness of Hawaiian honey, highlights samples from the beekeeping community, which are judged by a panel of foodies, chefs and others with extensive bee expertise.

Due to Hawai‘i’s range of micro-climates with specially adapted plants, Hawai‘i bees have a wide range of nectar sources they can use to make honey. Some may think honey is honey, if unaware of the varieties of flavors possible when it’s locally sourced.

“We had over 115 samples sent in from almost every island, with flavors ranging from key lime pie to cherry cola,” said BIBA Secretary Vanessa Houle. “It’s amazing how different flavors of honey are produced in Hawai‘i.

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The Honey Challenge is BIBA’s way of exposing people to this amazing variety of Hawaiian honey flavors.

The three highest-scoring samples get bragging rights as the best honey in the state.

The 10th annual Hawaiian Honey Challenge in Hilo on Oct. 19, 2019. PC: Crystal Richard

The challenge is open to all beekeepers, regardless of operation size.

The rules for the challenge state that the honey must be raw and harvested within the previous year. Seeding, additives, flavoring, blending or processing of honey is prohibited. Honey may be strained, with no smaller mesh than 200 microns, but not filtered.

Twelve judges scored the honey in three categories — liquid, solid and comb.

According to BIBA, judging honey is not like evaluating other agricultural commodities, as honey is a product that is infinitely variable. Judging is based on taste, aroma, clarity and texture.

Results from the formal judging will be announced after the People’s Choice tasting early next month.

The People’s Choice provides the public with a chance to taste and vote for their favorite Hawaiian honey at the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center during downtown Hilo’s Black and White Night on Friday, Nov. 1, from 6-9 p.m.

The Big Island Beekeepers Association held the formal judging for the 10th annual Hawaiian Honey Challenge on Saturday at the Komohana Agriculture Research Station in Hilo.

“We’ll have all samples set up in categories and you can literally try them all if you like, said Houle.

For more on the honey challenge and the 2018 winners go online.

The Big Island Beekeepers Association says it aims to assist fellow beekeeper, to educate beekeepers and the public in matters related to honey bees and beekeeping, to cooperate in marketing honey bee products, to provide community service related to bee issues and to promote beekeeping by creating a positive image of the honey bee, beekeeping and bee products.

BIBA is a mixture of backyard, semi-commercial, professional and “wanna-be” beekeepers who share an interest in beekeeping and sharing their knowledge with likeminded people.

To join BIBA or for more information, visit https://www.bigislandbeekeepers.com/.

Crystal Richard
Crystal Richard moved to East Hawai’i in 2005 to attend UH Hilo. While earning her bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate to teach English as a second language, Crystal served as the editor-in-chief of “Hohonu,” UH Hilo’s academic journal, and as assistant editor-in-chief at “KeKalahea,” UH Hilo’s student newspaper. From a young age, Crystal fell in love with the written word and has always dreamed of a career in journalism. She has worked as a Big Island Now freelance reporter since September 2016. She is a wellness and health advocate who enjoys swimming, gardening, reading and spending time with her animals and loved ones.

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