City-contracted beekeeper removes Koko Head Trail infestation

The city’s Parks and Recreation announced Friday that a city contracted beekeeper has successfully removed a bee infestation from the slopes of Koko Crater.

The bees had formed three hives within old wooden support beams comprising part of a historical railway that leads to the summit. The beekeeper was able to relocate the majority of the bees by using a bee trap, and was able to remove the hives without needing to remove any of the wooden beams.

The removal was handled by Absolute Termite and Pest Control, a locally owned and operated company at a cost of $150 per hive.

While access to the railway on city property is not prohibited, the city does not recommend, sanction or maintain the unofficial Koko Head Crater trail in any way. Unlike the state, the city does not have a trails program.

KHON2 reported last week about an increase in swarming bees on the trail due to the recent humid and wet weather.

After our story aired, more hikers shared their frustration with us, saying  the bee problem has become worse and they want to know why the city isn’t taking action.

Bees on Koko Head Crater Trail are a common sight, but lately, hikers say their numbers are increasing.

“It looked to be hundreds of them swarming and I was praying to keep my balance and not be stung,” said hiker Mary Duerden.

“I am already not too fond of heights and seeing the bees didn’t really help me going down that way,” said hiker Kevin Oandasan.

Beekeeper Steve Montgomery said this is not the first time he has heard about bees on the trail.

“They have been here for months and months because I have been getting reports from hikers about bees up here and what can be done,” said Montgomery.

Hikers are also concerned because the bees are on a bridge.

“I mean if you step on it the wrong way not only can you hurt yourself but you could hurt them and you could also fall off the edge,” said Oandasan.

“So what happened here is the support beams for this old tramway have been attacked by termites and hollowed out and a knothole has opened up a door for the bees,” said Montgomery.

After inspecting other areas on the bridge, Montgomery found five separate colonies living inside the bridge and he said he could remove them right away, but would need authorization from the city.

Michele Nekota, director of the city Department of Parks and Recreation, said in a statement:

The Department of Parks and Recreation has received reports of bees on Koko Head Crater. DPR is evaluating the best course of action to safely remove the bees.”

In the meantime, Montgomery says signs should be put up to warn people of where the colonies are located.

“If they did step on the wood that is housing this colony, it is a natural defense for the guard bees to come out and see what is causing the problem,” he said.

Montgomery says he would be able to remove the bees without harming them. Once removed, he could give them to another beekeeper or take them to a location where they are needed.

“I think that would be the best thing,” said Oandasan. “You don’t hurt the bees and it makes it safer for people to travel up.”

KHON2 also reached out to area councilmember Trevor Ozawa. He sent this statement:

Ensuring that our public spaces like Koko Head Trail are properly maintained is important to residents and visitors. I’ll be reaching out to the Parks Department to see what immediate action can be taken to ensure that the trail is once again easily accessible for all.

This may be a perfect opportunity for a public-private partnership to help relocate the bees to either a private beekeeper or a farm. I’m looking forward to working towards a remedy on this issue and ensuring that this trail is enjoyable once again for both residents and visitors.

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