Mites Wiping Out Oahu Honeybees

MANOA (KHNL) -- Honey bees produce everything from honey to beeswax. And to farmers they are the miracle insect pollinating their crops.

But a local scientist is declaring a state of emergency as a voracious mite is wiping out Oahu's bee population.

A microscopic mite is devastating Oahu's honey bee population and the long term affects could wipe out much of our island agriculture.

Beekeeper and bug expert Michael Kliks first discovered the mites in a Makiki hive last April.

"Since varroa has been found 6 April lost close to a hundred colonies and that was all do to mites. It happened like that seemed to happen overnight, " said beekeeeper Michael Kliks.

Mites have destroyed bee colonies on the mainland. They have not been confirmed on the outer islands and the State Department of Agriculture is monitoring the situation.

"When we knew we had mites for most of the colony it was too late," recalled Kliks.

There are about 150 mites in this lid, enough to wipe out 30,000 bees in two weeks.  How do they kill otherwise healthy bees?

"They suck the juices out of the bees, all levels, that reduces strength, immune capacity and vigor to fight off disease," explained Kliks.

Kliks produces Manoa honey, so delicious the ice cream company Hagen Daas incorporates it into one of it's best selling flavors.

But it's more than the honey he's worried about. Now he uses strips coated with pesticide to kill the mites. But Kliks believes the only solution is to eradicate all bees on Oahu making sure the mites are gone for good.