Food Box

Toothsome threesome: Mānoa, Nalo Meli and Rhea’s honeys
Image: Joana Gonzalez

Tastes of wild vintage

Honey bears may all come from the same mold, but when filled with local raw Hawaii honey, what sweet diversity they contain. We tasted a selection from three small apiaries: These richly textured nectars turn plain tea to liquid silk, transform the daily toast and are the best excuse you’ll ever have to make scones from scratch.

Owned by apiculturist Michael Kliks, Manoa Honey’s pale citron “Crater Kiawe” tastes dark as smoke, but smoothe, with a hint of moss and ohelo berry. Manoa’s orange “Mango Meli” has the flavor of sun-baked fruit, waterfalls and ferns. Nalo Meli “Kailua Wildflower Honey,” made by beekeepers Howard McGinnis and Kim Falinski, is pale as sunbleached grass and tastes light as a summer day, redolent of ginger and lilikoi. The “Kailua” made by Rhea McWilliams is dark as molasses and tastes of makai-to-mauka mist; Rhea’s “Waimanalo” and “Norfolk” varieties are equally distinct.

These unprocessed native honeys celebrate our shared island home that is a garden. One thing you won’t taste is the sweat of the beekeeper, but the product is informed by the honest labor of the people and the threatened bees that they care for and help save. Hawaiian honeybees are suffering die-offs, along with their counterparts worldwide. Supporting local beekeepers keeps our local food crops pollinated and justifies our paying a premium price (about $6–$10 for 6–12 oz.). Find them at farmers’ markets and natural food stores.

The Manoa Honey Co., []; Nalo Meli Hawaiian Honey, []; Rhea’s Hawaiian Honey,1349 Mokolea Drive,262-7742