Group of people with Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie
University of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture officials with Governor Neil Abercrombie following the signing of House Bill 2100.

At ceremonies at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol this week, Governor Neil Abercrombie proclaimed June 18–24 as “Hawaiʻi Pollinator Week” and signed a bill into law that appropriates funds to the University of Hawaiʻi for statewide beehive research.

House Bill 2100 appropriates $30,000 for beehive research done in consultation with the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture on Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, Oʻahu and Kauaʻi.

The funding will aid in Hawaiʻi’s fight to control pests and diseases that have been impacting the state’s bee populations. This includes work being performed at UH Hilo’s 110-acre Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Panaʻewa to develop more efficient methods for controlling the small hive beetle, a major pest of honeybee hives on Hawaiʻi Island.

UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney attended the signing along with UH Hilo Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi, UH System Vice President Rockne Freitas and officials from the Hawaiʻi Department of Agriculture.

“Bees are particularly important as pollinators for our macadamia nut and coffee industries; bee-pollinated crops contribute about $106 million to our local economy,” said Abercrombie. “The University of Hawaiʻi is leading research that will help to protect many of Hawaiʻi’s own native pollinators, including seven species of yellow-faced bees that are candidates for the endangered species list.”

Hawaiʻi Pollinator Week coincides with National Pollinator Week to raise awareness of the issue of declining pollinator populations. Loss of beehives is a threat to the agricultural economy on all islands because bees are necessary to pollinate many crops.

Media coverage of the bill signing:

Beekeeping courses and research at UH Hilo

UH Hilo has been offering an introductory course on beekeeping for more than 20 years, and now also offers an advanced beekeeping course that allows students to build upon their acquired skills with independent projects that include research and creative activities.

The campus has also partnered with Chef Alan Wong on the Adopt-A-Beehive program, which was launched in June 2011 to raise awareness of the critical plight of honeybees and to promote local solutions to sustaining the local honeybee industry.

Watch the video below as Wong and Tsutsumi explain the plight of Hawaiʻi’s apiary and food industries if urgent beehive problems are not addressed.