Molokai Meli is a family owned and operated business that specializes in producing raw, kiawe honey from kiawe blossoms on the remote Hawaiian island of Molokai. Every member of the Apodaca family has his or her part to play from honey tasting experts to bee removal professionals. We feel blessed to have a business that allows us to work together, support ourselves, and have fun in the process!
Meli is the Hawaiian word for honey. As our name shows, we are all about local honey. It is important to us to be able to provide you with the best raw natural, tropical honey, bottled fresh from the hive. All of our beekeeping practices are geared towards keeping the bees healthy and strong so that we don’t have to use antibiotics or pesticides in our hives. We also uncap our frames and process our honey by hand, so it is never exposed to heat. Keeping the honey raw maintains its natural enzymes and health benefits.
Because we live on an isolated island, we have been able to keep mainland diseases (like mites) from entering our apiary. We are committed to the health of our colonies and our apiary has been developed from 100% local Molokai bees that have been relocated from wild hives. We know of no other apiary that has gathered all of its hives from the wild. We also raise our own queens from our best stock. As you can see, our bees are pretty special to us. We think you will agree that our honey is pretty special, too
THE BUSY BEES
The Kaneshiro Family
How Molokai Meli Began
Molokai Meli was started in 2004 by the Kaneshiro family. Their eight year old son, Elijah, had developed a delicious salad dressing recipe using honey, lemon juice, olive oil, and other choice ingredients. Many suggested that he begin to sell his special dressing for others to enjoy. It was the Kaneshiro's search for a raw organic local honey for their son's salad dressing that gave them the idea to start making their own honey.
The Kaneshiro's first hive came from a tree in Papohaku, on the west end of Molokai, in 2004. After about two years of getting established they had enough Molokai Meli kiawe honey to supply to Elijah for his salad dressing business. Later, Elijah established a few of his own beehives and began marketing comb honey. At nine years of age, their daughter, Tabitha, began utilizing the wax cappings left from honey extraction to make hand-dipped tapered candles and an all-natural surfboard wax. Their daughter, Elisabeth, was inspired at the age of four to make a healing salve using honey, beeswax, vitamins and herbs. She then went on to make stick perfume and lip balms with the beeswax. Their youngest daughter, Esther, made birthday candles and sold kits so that children could make their own birthday candles.
Molokai Meli continued as a family adventure for the Kaneshiro's until 2017.
The Apodaca Family
Continuing the Natural Beekeeping Tradition
We continue to pursue the high standards of beekeeping as taught to us by the Kaneshiro family. This includes focusing on quality rather than quantity, so our bees always have enough of their own honey, and do not need to be fed sugar water to survive when there are no kiawe blossoms in bloom. We focus on keeping our colonies naturally resilient and feel blessed that we have not had to medicate our bees or use any pesticides. This means the honey is truly pure because the whole hive is pure and healthy!
Raw honey is full of vitamins, nutrients and enzymes that are destroyed by the heating process that most honey production involves. This not only changes the nutritional value, but it changes the taste and texture. We are committed to producing totally unheated honey. We remove the cappings of the honeycomb all by hand and with only cold forks and knives. Most commercial honey producers use heat to melt the cappings (or covering of wax) from the comb because it is faster. We also do not use a filter in the processing of our honey. Usually honey is heated to make it more liquid, then forced through a filtering device to make sure there are no large particles and to prevent it from naturally crystallizing. We believe in putting the honey in the jar the same way it came out of the hive ~ pure and natural. We trust that our commitment to these practices results in a wonderful tasting, pure, kiawe honey that provides maximum enjoyment and health benefits for the bees, our environment, and you!
One of the practices that sets our apiary apart from the rest is that we do not purchase bees or queens from bee production farms. All of our hives have come from the wild, by removing unwanted bees from trees and buildings in our community and placing them in hive boxes in our apiary. We increase the number of our hives solely by responding to bee rescue and removal around our island. We also raise our own queens for replacement or reproducing hives.
Because we are on an isolated island, we have been fortunate to avoid some mites that have threatened the health of colonies elsewhere. Today Molokai is one of the few places even among the Hawaiian Islands that has not been affected by the infestation of the honeybee parasite, varroa mite. It is one of the few places in the world that provides a safe haven for beekeepers to manage hives with virtually no medication. Foulbrood is also virtually nonexistent in domestic colonies that are properly maintained. Continuing to protect the health of all colonies on Molokai in this way, is a top priority.
We asolutely love the taste of kiawe honey! So we have selected a site for our apiary that is surrounded by kiawe trees to maintain a pure kiawe honey. Most honey does not come from a single, specialized floral source.
Kiawe honey is known for its rapid rate of crystallization. This is one of the factors that makes it desirable. Because the crystals in kiawe honey form so rapidly, they are very small. The rapid crystallization of kiawe honey really causes it to stand out in texture, but it also creates an unusual challenge for the beekeeper. When the honey is ready to harvest, the bees close each cell of the comb with a covering of wax (or capping). If honey is harvested before this capping occurs, the water content of the honey is too high, causing the honey to ferment. Most beekeepers can harvest the honey one day, and extract it from the comb at any later date. Kiawe honey crystallizes so rapidly that it actually crystallizes in the hive! Once the honey is crystallized in the comb, the only way to remove the honey from the wax is by using heat. This requires impeccable timing for raw (totally unheated) kiawe honey harvesting. There is a very small window of time from the capping of the comb to crystallization with which to work to extract the honey from the comb and get it in the jar. Once in the jar, we allow the honey to age in a climate-controlled area until the desired consistency is achieved for our Premium Silky honey. Stirring solid kiawe honey will soften it so it can be scooped out by the spoonful. This is how many enjoy our honey ~ one tiny spoonful at a time placed upside-down on the tongue to allow it melt in their mouths.