When you look at a product that is sold world wide, it could be easily imagined as a mass production of a massive organization and factories galore working virtually 24 hours per day. Look deeper in to that company’s history and it will most likely take you back to one person and this person's early hopes that the small business might succeed.
The only plan for the future was survival.
Where Hikiän is concerned the company bears no resemblance to a multinational corporation, yet the roots of the business are a little different when it comes to the hopes of just one man, if you exchange commercial gain for a need for survival.
If you ask when Hikiän began, the answer is just after the Second World War in the late 1940s - at the time when Finland was still suffering from the after-effects of a horrific conflict and food supplies were dangerously scarce. It was then when Martti Nuotio, the grandfather of today’s company head, Reko Nieminen, built the very first beehives and implanted them deep in the heart of Finnish woodland, exactly the same location as it is used for honey producing today.
Martti learned all he could about beekeeping and with a natural environment that was so abundant of flowers in spring and summertime, more honey than the family could have imagined flowed from the modest number of hives. The benefactors were all the neighboring villagers who without doubt would have considered this honey to be “a nectar of the gods” in a time of such shortage.
Over the time the business grew into a modest commercial enterprise, one that you would hardly know existed. Why? Because everything about harvesting and bottling the honey was done in a delicate and gentle manner, ensuring that the honey remained in its totally natural state, while the bees remained unharmed and healthy.
The main secret to the health and wellbeing of the hives has always been one strict rule: “Some for us, some for you.”
Bees collect nectar to create honey as a source of food and energy for the occupants of a hive. Remove too much of their food reserves and the bees become overworked, overstressed and ultimately their health suffers to the point where they are unable to function. Whole hives can easily be wiped out if you take too much honey at a time.
For Hikiän, to produce enough raw honey to meet the demand, the only solution was not to take that little bit extra from each hive, but to install more hives – carefully dotted throughout the forest. They are not in massive rows as you might imagine, they are more just as an extension of nature, allowing each hive access to its own supply of nectar from the wild flowers. Where the most honey producers dilute their honey with sugar syrup to increase the yield, Hikiän just builds new ”factories” and waits for the nature to fill them up with a new workforce.
Even more conscious of the shorter summers in Scandinavia, Hikiän also has to accept that unlike commercial ”honey farms” which raid their hives on a regular basis, Hikiän can harvest honey only once a year if the bees are to remain healthy and productive. The window of the opportunity to harvest honey is very small indeed!
Of course, that’s only half of the story. What about the raw honey itself once it is harvested? What happens to it next?
The answer to the question is: “very little”, in fact as little as possible. With Hikiän raw honey, emphasis is on the words rawand natural. When the honey is harvested, it is neither heated nor filtered, it is not churned or mixed with any other substances. In fact, there is only one process the honey goes through before being bottled. It is allowed to rest, nothing else.
Nature can be harnessed in many ways and where honey is concerned the texture is so dense that virtually any ”foreign objects” such as pine needles, bits of twig and bark, leaves of flowers etc. will gently rise to the surface where they can all be gently and carefully skimmed off.
It really is that simple and where the environment is concerned everything about Hikiän raw honey is 100% natural and 100% sustainable. Were the business to close down tomorrow nature would reclaim the hives and the bees would carry on as if nothing had ever changed.
As for the Hikiän today, has it changed much in over 70 years since the first beehives appeared, secreted away in the heart of a Finnish forest? Where the honey is concerned, nothing has changed at all and why should it when it is difficult to improve on any of nature’s recipes. Yes, today’s health regulations dictate that stainless-steel vats has to be used for honey extracted from the honeycomb, but that’s about it. The only other change has been the man at the helm, who has helped to expand the global reach of Hikiän honey to both the Middle and Far East and the Orient.
If you ask Reko Nieminen why he chose to produce and sell honey for a living, the answer may surprise you.
He did not choose this way of life, this way of life was already in his bloodstream and beekeeping was in his genes. When you grow up in some of the world’s most beautiful countryside and experience the pure joy of living with the cleanest air and purest water, it is not something you can easily escape. Reko tried, skirting with the worlds of motor racing and the corporate environment but eventually the call from home became too strong and only since he did return to Hikiä he has felt truly happy.