Hawaii bees in spotlight at free public event this weekend

The public is invited to learn more about the importance of Hawaii’s honeybees at a free event this weekend.

It takes place on Saturday, June 10, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., at the Urban Garden Center at 955 Kamehameha Highway in Pearl City.

The UH Honeybee Project will offer hands-on bee demonstrations. There will also be displays about honeybees, native yellow-faced bees, and Kamehameha butterflies, and a monarch butterfly tent. Keiki will be able to make a bee house, and visitors can buy pollinator-themed plants and honey fresh from the UGC hives.

The University of Hawaii started the UH Honeybee Project nine years ago in response to pests that threaten the state’s bee population. The purpose of the project is to come up with best management practices that beekeepers can follow to keep their colonies healthy.

Among the methods researchers created is a way to control the varroa mite, a tiny pest that sucks the blood of bees, killing off entire colonies. The project developed a strip embedded with formic acid, which kills the mites but keeps the bees safe.

“(The number of) bee keepers has started to increase and in doing so, more managed colonies has increased,” said research technician Scott Nikaido. “Right now, as far as managed colonies, it looks really good. We still lose bees every year, but what we’re more looking at is honey production, so honey production has stabilized.”

Hawaii has the highest honey yield in the nation, generating more than 100 pounds per colony per year. It’s also the largest exporter of queen bees, which helps to boost colonies across the world.

Click here for more information about the UH Honeybee Project.

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