By Dagny Brand
With an incredible educational outreach and a multidimensional approach to farming, Maui Bees is the perfect stop during a day in Kula and a great place to enjoy the wonders of beekeeping and more. “We started 12 years ago as an experiment: Can we take a small piece of land and make it regenerative as well as feed the community?” said owner Mark Damon, who runs the farm with his wife, Leah Damon. A multi-species farm, Maui Bees is also home to a bee museum, 300 bee colonies, and a commercial kitchen with food made with local and organic ingredients. “It’s such a fun farm because there are so many dimensions. It’s a model for what you can do with agriculture in Hawaii.”
At Maui Bees, visitors find honey bees among vegetables, cows, chickens, and turkeys. “It’s a farm first, then a place to buy your vegetables and food products, and then a place to have to-go food,” Damon explained. Maui Bees offers three delicious types of honey year-round. The winter harvest, made from eucalyptus flowers, is Damon’s favorite and “tastes like butterscotch.” The summer harvest is made from the Christmas berry, and the farm also makes a macadamia nut variety. The three honeys all have very distinct flavors. In addition to honey, Maui Bees creates value added products, including their famous fermented foods, from the foods grown on their multidimensional farm and sourced from neighboring farms. Some of their most popular products include sauerkraut, kimchi, jun, which is similar to a kombucha made with honey instead of sugar, and fermented mustard and pickles. “Everything is organic and healthy as can be. Our clientele is health oriented and love our offerings.” Maui Bees then added Food to Go, a commercial kitchen with dishes made from local products grown on the Maui Bees farm. Visitors can enjoy their farm fresh meal at a picnic table available on the farm for the full experience. “Chef Larry Duran came to us from the Grand Wailea in volunteer mode to learn food production and then started working with us to run the kitchen.” Using their 4 acre farm to feed the community, Maui Bees has many local and delicious products to offer.
With a goal to teach the community about agriculture and beekeeping, Maui Bees offers a huge educational outreach program, with a variety of tours and classes and a bee museum with observation bee hives open to the public. Maui Bees has a tour and educational program for many age groups. “Because schools were closed due to COVID-19, people are homeschooling and they need something to do. We have been filling that niche for a lot of families and home school groups.” Their “littles”, or preschoolers, program includes a trip to the bee museum and classes led by Ashley Thome, a school teacher on staff at Maui Bees. A program for children ages 6-12 offers the same exciting activities in addition to a tour around the farm to see the animals and learn about organic and regenerative farming. “We teach them about soil fertility and show them how we make compost. It’s really fun and the kids really love it.” Maui Bees offers two incredible and informative tours to adults and families. The Regenerative Agriculture Tour focuses on soil biology, the effect of plants on the climate, and carbon in the soil. Visitors who want to focus on the bees can participate in the Hands-On Honey Bee Tour, which includes learning the basics of beekeeping, dressing in beekeeping equipment, and handling bees from an open hive. Maui Bees is always doing beekeeping workshops for the community. “We are really excited about teaching people what we’ve learned, and people are very interested in it.” A stroll on the Maui Bees farm is a tasty and educational experience for all to enjoy.
In addition to visiting the Maui Bees farm and Food to Go, consumers can check out Maui Bees on Instagram at @mauibeeshoney. The products are for sale online and can be shipped anywhere in the US. They are also available at retail stores including Mana Foods, Down to Earth, and Alive and Well. For more information or to check out the many products and programs offered by Maui Bees, click here.