Category: Honeys and Bee-related Products
Kiawe Honey, from the Kiawe Tree
The honey is mono floral and comes exclusively from the flowers of the Kiawe tree (prosopis pallida), a type of mesquite, and is not mixed with honey from any other plants. Kiawe trees grow in the arid, volcanic lava environment of leeward side of Hawaii.
One story claims that the species was introduced to Honolulu in 1828 by Father Bachelot, the first Catholic priest to arrive in Hawaii. From this single tree it eventually spread to over 150,000 acres. By 1840 it had become the principal shade tree of Honolulu. Its seed pods became an important source of fodder for cattle. The honeybee was introduced in 1860.
While the species Prosopis pallida is categorized as “invasive” on many pacific islands, according to information on the “Pacific islands Ecosystems at Risk” website (www.hear.org/Pier/species/prosopis pallida.htm) it is not listed in the “risk” category for Hawaii. Indeed the intrinsic value of the Kiawe or mesquite tree may be soon rediscovered, for it is saltwater tolerant and can play an important role in controlling desertification which is a growing problem worldwide. As a prolific source of honey, mesquite flour, and fuel wood, the mesquite tree also provides value-added products for cottage industries in the semi arid countries where it grows.
Pure Kiawe honey when carefully harvested is pearly white in color with a smooth creamy texture, unlike any other honey. Exact timing and meticulous care is required to produce this world class honey; thus it is “handpicked ” one comb at a time. If harvested too early, before it is ripe, it will ferment, and if harvested too late it will crystallize (solidify) in the wax comb, requiring heat to melt the comb to extract the honey. Applying heat would radically alter the naturally exquisite taste, texture, color and nutritional qualities of this rare and delicate honey.
The 1,000-acre Kiawe forest that this honey comes from is unique perhaps in the world because it is an isolated oasis of trees, situated over a deep aquifer, allowing the trees to reach an extraordinary height of 60 feet—the usual height is 18-20 feet tall. This unique stand of trees produces a honey that is a 99% pure varietal. Beekeepers have been working this grove for 100 years.
A fire in 2007 burned almost half of the grove, thus reducing the size and productive capacity of the forest. Another threat is an existing golf course permit for the forest, which could be implemented in the future.