Authentic Connection at Volcano Island Honey

Posted on August 18, 2010 in Apiary Tours | Short Link

What are you looking for when you travel?

When I travel I am looking to connect with the people and the place in a deep and authentic way. Yes… I want to read books and improve upon my tan, but I also want to feel connected to something outside of my ordinary range of experience.

Andrea dancing with new friends at a kava party in Lawena, Taveuni, Fiji.

Andrea dancing with new friends at a kava party in Lawena, Taveuni, Fiji.

I just got back from a trip to Fiji and was deeply touched by the depth of my visitor experience. I stayed in a number of places that were owned and run by Fijians, and in some cases owned and run by the village. The connection between my visitor dollars and the good it did in the communities where I stayed was real and immediate. I never felt so good spending money! In exchange, I got to experience Fijian nature and culture in a real, authentic way.

Andrea (at left), Mary and Fijian friends in Sabeto, Viti Levu.

Andrea (at left), Mary and Fijian friends in Sabeto, Viti Levu.

Given my interest in food self-sufficiency, I was always on the lookout for how people were growing and harvesting food. In summary- cassava and taro, everywhere! There was no formal “agri-tourism,” but every experience was an opportunity to sample native foods. On the outer islands, you don’t go to the food store for your food you go to the land and sea.

At one point I was sharing granola bars with some villagers. “Are these Hawaiian snacks?” they asked. “Well…not exactly, I bought them at Costco.” And then I found myself having to explain what Costco was to the people who brought me a dinner the night before that consisted entirely of foods they grew or harvested from the ocean on that day.

Agriculture in Hawaii is second only to tourism in terms of an economic driver- and some farms have married the two together creating “agri-tourism” on the Big Island. Visiting working farms is a great way to connect with Hawaii residents, explore new areas of the island, and sample the bounty of the land.

Students from DePauw University sampling bee pollen.

Students from DePauw University sampling bee pollen.

Volcano Island Honey has been welcoming visitors to the bee farm, or “apiary,” for over 20 years. The bees have so much wisdom to share with us about how to live gently on the earth and in community with one another. Richard Spiegel, owner of Volcano Island Honey has been passionate about the bees and the environment for over 30 years.

Richard shows Lama Dhondup a frame from the bee hive.

Richard shows Lama Dhondup a frame from the bee hive.

Visiting Volcano Island Honey is always an authentic experience because Richard wears his heart on his sleeve (or his bee suit, as the case may be!) When you visit, Richard (resident beekeeper-hippy-lawyer-philosopher) shares his personal and professional philosophy evolved from over 30 years of working with the bees.
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Next time you are visiting Hawaii, or have friends or family visiting you- consider spending part of a day at Volcano Island Honey. The company has just launched a new Private Artisan Apiary Tour designed to give visitors more one-on-one time with Richard and the Bees. (You even get to put on a bee suit and explore the inside of a hive, but you don’t have to!)

Posted by Andrea Dean.

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