Hawaiʻi’s honey market is skyrocketing. The state’s bee farms have the highest honey yield in the nation, generating more than 100 pounds per colony per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Thousands of Hawaiʻi-grown queen bees are also exported every week.
Beyond the liquid gold, bees and other pollinators are critical to the health of our food supply and ecosystem. The University of Hawaiʻi plays an important role in supporting the state’s honeybees and other pollinators. The UH Honeybee Project at UH Mānoa’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources does research on honeybee health, pest-management strategies and the development of “pollinator-friendly” farms.
“We really heavily rely upon the honeybee to provide pollination of different crops such as your lychee, your longan, to your pumpkins and squashes that you see on the farms and you see in the markets,” notes Scott Nikaido, a research technician with the UH Honeybee Project.
UH Honeybee Project members have trained a group of volunteers known as the Bee Hui to help to spread the word through community outreach and education.
“Everyone can have an impact in their daily lives about helping pollinators or supporting our environment—their choice of pesticide, for example, and the flowers that they plant,” says Bee Hui volunteer Pamela Hinsdale.
UH Mānoa graduate student Jackie Smith volunteers with the Bee Hui because she says public education key.
“We need food and just the overall health of the ecosystem,” says Smith. “So those are two big things as to why pollinators are important and the public should care.”
There’s a lot the public can do to help to protect our bees, other pollinators and our food supply.
Nikaido, from the UH Honeybee Project, advises, “Just try to plant more crops in your backyard. Be more pesticide free if you can. And buy local honey. That’s one of the biggest things you can do to support your honeybees, is buy local honey from your local beekeepers.”
Visit the UH Honeybee Project website for more information and to get involved.
—By Kelli Trifonovitch