The recent annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge was a special event, report coordinators of the activity held in downtown Hilo.
For the first year, the award categories were expanded to reflect varietal types of honey, the category of comb honey was added, and multi-floral blends were divided into three types (light, amber and dark).
Judging took place at two events; the formal judging conducted by a panel of five judges selected for their discriminating taste, and the public tasting event at which anyone who bought a ballot could vote for the “People’s Choice” awards in three categories (liquid, solid and comb).
A few of the swards in the liquid category were:
l Best in Show — a light noni/palm honey submitted by Ron Hanson of Bee Mo Bettah;
l Best Albizia Honey rated highest for appearance, texture and taste — an amber albizia honey submitted by John Hanson;
l Best Kiawe Honey rated highest for appearance — a light kiawe honey submitted by Jenny Bach of Bee Love Apiary.
Some awards in the comb honey category were:
l Best in Show — an amber tropical multi-floral honey submitted by Larry Reiss of Parsantha Apiary;
l Best Macadamia Honey rated highest in appearance — an amber macadamia honey submitted by Ron Hanson of Bee Mo Bettah;
l Best Mac Plus Honey — a dark mac-plus honey submitted by Joyce Takahashi of Miki Macs Honey.
Some awards in the solid honey categorywere:
l Best in Show — a light ohia/lehua honey submitted by Henry Iuker of Daddy’s Stolen Honey;
l Best Lehua Blend Honey rated highest in appearance — a dark lehua blend submitted by John Hanson;
l Best Texture for a Ohia/Lehua honey — an amber ohia/lehua honey submitted by Henry Iuker of Daddy’s Stolen Honey .
This year’s three People’s Choice awards are:
l Best Liquid Honey — a dark eucalyptus honey submitted by John Hanson;
l Best Comb Honey — a light Noni/palm submitted by Ron Hanson of Bee Mo Bettah;
l Best Solid Honey — a dark Tropical Multi-floral honey submitted by Patrick Weder of Lotus Buddhist Monastery.
“The Big Island Beekeepers Association owes much to the all those who contributed to make this year’s challenge a success beginning with our judges who labored seven hours on a Friday to rate all 52 entries,” said an association spokesman.
Alice Moon of the Downtown Improvement Association and Sam Robinson of Let’s Grow Hilo, and their crew, assisted with logistics.
The judges were Lauren Rusert from the Hawaii State Apiary Program, Lorie Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee Farm, Joan Obra of Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee Farm and Isla Custom Coffee, Ralph Gaston of Rusty’s Hawaiian Coffee Farm and Isla Custom Coffee, and Sonia Martinez, monthly columnist for the Hamakua Times, Farmers Market produce writer for Ke Ola Magazine and Farmers Market and farmers feature writer for the Hawaii HomeGrown Food Network.
Volunteers who helped make the event a success included Chandra Boyd, Pat Chu, Cary Dizon, HASS Bee Club, Heather O’Connell, Amy Ketner, Sean Kirkpatrick, Val Kimbrough, Star Newland, Jen Rasmussen, Larry Reiss, Randy and Danny Sosnansky, Allen and Juanipa Sylvester, Rod Vanderhoef and Catarina Zaragoza-Dodge, and registrar Pattie Rechtman. Danielle Downey and Lauren Rusert of the State Apiarist Office were on hand to talk to the beekeepers.