The Story Behind Big Island Bees’ Ohi’a Lehua Honey
On our recent family vacation I was lucky enough to be in close proximity to the producer of our amazing organic honey, Big Island Bees. Whendi our gracious host was kind enough to show us around even though the day we came to visit was a flurry of activity. The Ohi’a Lehua “honey flow” had just finished and dripping stacks of honeycomb frames were coming in and needed to be tended to. Unlike other honeys, the Lehua blossom’s entire production must be packed immediately since it crystallizes within three weeks of being extracted from the hive.
Stepping inside Big Island Bees’ production room the dedication to producing and packaging this magnificent honey was clear. While the hectic pace inside their facility seemed to belie the operation’s exotic setting near the lush southwestern coast of Hawai’i, the flavor of this delicate, fragrant varietal honey did not. I love this honey and became further enamored of its magic after seeing the tiny seedlings of the Ohi’a tree struggling through cracks in the lava fields. These tiny trees are among the first life to emerge in new lava flows, which must surely have been the inspiration for this ancient legend.
Apparently Pele, the goddess of volcanoes, fell madly in love with the handsome warrior, Ohi’a, and asked him to marry her. But Prince Ohia was deeply in love with the beautiful Lehua and gracefully declined Pele’s proposal. This so enraged the goddess that she turned Ohi’a into a twisted tree. Lehua was heartbroken, of course, and begged the other gods to change Ohi’a back. Despite Lehua’s pleas, the other Hawaiian gods were helpless to overturn Pele’s spell. They did take pity on her and, deciding it was an injustice to have Ohi’a and Lehua separated, the gods transformed Lehua into a lovely red blossom to adorn the Ohi’a tree to forever join the two lovers.
Small wonder this honey requires so much extra attention! No doubt I now have an overly romanticized vision, but oh what a sweet one to enjoy as I’m spreading that dreamy honey on my morning toast.