I cannot live without honey. Turns out most of the world cannot live without bees. Bees are a buzzing little cog in our habitat, and making honey is just one of many things the humble insects do in our ecosystem. Even though I eat honey everyday, I never really knew what bees did or how that honey was made until I went on the Maui Gold Bee Tour. Beekeeper Eldon Dorsett has been working with bees nonstop since he got stung by the beekeeping bug. His knowledge is extensive, and his tour is not only tasty (you do get to taste honey) but full of interesting info on what makes these bee colonies tick.
“I want guests to experience something they have never seen before,” says Dorsett. “Thousands of bees up close in their hive being calm and photogenic while they feel safe. I want to show visitors how complex and ingenious their world is. I also want to raise awareness as to how important they are to the cycle of life and nature as a whole. The idea to me that a box full of bees can accomplish so many different things so efficiently is an experience in itself. Also, whilst pollinating the fruits and veggies we love they make honey – one of the best things to come out of the natural world.”
Dorsett discovered beekeeping by accident, when he found a hive in his back yard that had been abandoned. He saved that hive, and began saving other hives, building his apiary. He put hives on farms for pollination. And he talked about honeybees to anyone that would listen.
“I was so enthralled by the bees when I accidentally discovered my first hive,” says Dorsett. “My wife, Sally, would get so annoyed with me when I started beekeeping because I would talk forever about bees with anyone who would even come close to asking. I started taking friends out to the hives, and everyone was so blown away and talked about it for weeks. One day I went on my friends’ coconut farm tour at Punakea Palms and thought, Wow this is genius; I could do this with the bees and people would love it.”
So he looked high and low for locations, and eventually found a partner in Tod Domeck, from Maui Pineapple Tours. Maui Gold Bee Tours was conceptualized and born in Hali’imaile.
“The Maui Pineapple Tour has been instrumental in the creation of the Maui Gold Bee Tour. Without their partnership it’s very possible I wouldn’t have been able to start this,” says Dorsett. “The view in Hali’imaile is insane, the weather is cool, and it’s surrounded by fallow fields full of flowers for the bees.”
You meet Dorsett in the heart of Hali’imaile in front of the Hali’imaile Distillery and get picked up in the Maui Gold Bee Tour van. As you head up Dorsett tells you about how he got into beekeeping. When you arrive at the location where the hives are, the incredible view just hits you. It is really breathtaking.
Dorsett tells tour goers about the bees and what their incredible life cycle is like, how he makes the hives, and how the hive operates, with worker bees, queen bees, and male drone bees. This overview is an important crash course, because in next moments, attendees suit up. Maui Gold Honey Tour has bee suits to put on, and then heads down to the hives.
“My favorite part of the tour is hearing guests respond to when I pull out thousands of bees on a frame. From their reaction, I can infer that this is a favorite part of the tour. But let’s be honest, the best part of the tour is probably the honey tasting.”
After you get to witness the hives up close and personal, Dorsett brings back a frame to observe it sans the bees, so you can glimpse the baby bees, eggs, and honeycomb. Then the best part of tour: time to taste the honey.
“Honey is made by honeybees from the nectar of flowers,” says Dorsett. “It never goes bad. They found honey in the pyramids in Egypt thought to be 3,000 years old. Honey is high in antioxidants and essential minerals and vitamins. It has amino acids that are essential for biosynthesis in our bodies. Honey also contains pollen which can aid with allergies. By eating local honey you are getting small doses of the local pollen which over time can limit your body’s immune response to the particular allergens. Honey varies widely depending on what flowers the bees are collecting the nectar from. This means that geographic location, weather, and season all play a role in the taste, consistency, and color of the honey.”
The honey was so good, and Maui Gold Bee Tour serves up cold water, cheese, and crackers with it. I was amazed by how incredible the honey tastes on brie and gouda. I don’t know why I hadn’t tried that before. I was an instant convert. The honey was a dark amber and was sweet but complex. Everyone got to take home a small jar of the bee magic.
“The point of this tour is to give people a glimpse into a real working beehive and for just a moment see the complexity and beauty I get to see everyday as a beekeeper. If I can raise awareness for the honeybee one person at a time I feel like I am making a difference.”
You can book the tour online at Mauigoldbeetour.com or call 808-793-4660. You can also book it at Mauipineappletour.com. Dorsett will also accommodate weekend tours for locals that cannot make weekdays. Closed toed shoes and long pants are recommended on the tour. You can contact Maui Gold Bee Tour for more information at Info@mauigoldbeetour.com.