Maui Company Creates Local Buzz with Bees

February 17, 2012, 11:07 AM HST · Updated February 19, 9:40 AM
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Bottling artisan honey at Kalepa. After extracting, the honey is passed through a coarse stainless steel mesh, and then through cheesecloth into the Stainless Steel bottling tank. It is left to settle for a week or so, to get air bubbles and large wax particles to float to the surface for skimming before it is bottled in freshly washed & dried wide-mouth canning jars. Photo of Helen Nielsen by Jonathan Starr.

By Wendy Osher

When she’s not busy as a bee with local community initiatives, Helen Nielsen is creating a buzz with Maui Natural Bee honey.

Neilsen, who is an original founder, and board president of the Hawaiian Island Land Trust, has become a familiar face  at many of Maui’s community projects–most recently, joining her husband Jonathan Starr in advocating for the reWailuku project in Central Maui.

Outside of work in Wailuku, Neilsen spends an equal amount of time at her energy-independent home in Kaupo.

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It it there that her honey bee business was born.

“After considering the plight of honeybees around the world, and the relatively healthy, isolated environment we have in southeast Maui, we started raising bees about three years ago,” said Nielsen. “We currently have about 35 hives and we are completely energy independent, powering with solar and collecting rainwater,” she said.

Nielsen will discuss the lives of honeybees, their efficiency, and the benefits of consuming local honey during the February edition of Slow Food Maui’s Taste Education Series.

She will also share tastings of her Maui Natural Bee honey as well as useful ways to use honey in the kitchen and bath.  The company provides local artisan honey and Kiawe and Christmas berry honey to the Maui community through farmers markets, and directly from from the source via [email protected].

Jonathan Starr (left) and Helen Nielsen (middle) recently participated in a discussion with Governor Neil Abercrombie about the reWailuku initiative. File photo by Wendy Osher.

The Taste Education session  is scheduled on February 29 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Maui Culinary Academy located in the Pāʻina Building at 310 West Kaʻahumanu Avenue at the UH-Maui Campus.

The series is made possible with support from the Maui Culinary Academy and Whole Foods Market Kahului.  It is a nine-part “food focused” educational series organized to honor people who grow and produce the food we eat.

The series brings local food producers in the community to the forefront so others may learn about their work, how their product is made and where to find it.

Sessions are held on the last Wednesday of each month from February through October.

Each session costs $15 for Slow Food Maui members and $20 for non-members. Advance reservations and payment can be made online at www.slowfoodmaui.org.

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