Honeybees, on the rebound, central to Hawaii food production goals

Honeybees, on the rebound, central to Hawaii food production goals
Updated: Feb. 14, 2017 at 5:39 PM HST
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(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some tiny pollinators are expected to play a critical role in the governor's push to double local food production by 2020.

Honeybees have made a comeback in Hawaii, after serious declines caused by the varroa mite and other problems, according to experts with the University of Hawaii Honeybee Project.

"I think it has actually come up and stabilized nationally, as well as, I believe in our state, and the reason for that is we have a lot more beekeepers. Beekeeping has become kind of like the cool hobby for the backyard gardener," said Scott Nikaido, a UH research technician on honeybees.

Beekeepers now have to work a lot harder to keep their hives healthy.

Local agriculture relies heavily on honeybees, and the demand for their pollination services is expected to grow with renewed emphasis on local food production. Some large companies now have hives on their farms or pay for pollination services.

"If the state needs to increase their food production like the governor wants, they need to start incorporating honeybee colonies into their farming practices, and we're actually starting to see that," said Nikaido.

Sometimes, honeybees end up invading other places. Koko Crater Stables is trying to figure out how to relocate four feral hives.

"The bees have not been a problem up to this point, but just being very cautious. We want to make sure that no one got close, if any horses bump into it or anything might scare the bees and then force them to attack to protect themselves," said Jerry Mount, president of Koko Crater Stables.

The largest colony is inside a wooden pole that's part of the judges' stand which needs to be rebuilt before a horse show in May.

"There could be anywhere from 5,000 to 20,000 bees in there," said Jasmine Joy, founder of Beelieve Hawaii, a company that relocates feral honeybee colonies.

The goal is to have hives in a different spot on the property to help with pollination at the nearby Koko Crater Botanical Garden.

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