Gov. signs measure for bee hive research

HONOLULU —  Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Monday signed into law a measure to help Hawai‘i fight pests that have been impacting the state’s bee populations.

Abercrombie also proclaimed June 18-24 as “Hawai‘i Pollinator Week.”

House Bill 2100 appropriates $30,000 to the University of Hawai‘i system for bee hive research done in consultation with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture on Big Island, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

This will include work being performed at UH Hilo’s 110-acre farm to develop more efficient methods for controlling the small hive beetle, a major pest for honeybees on Big Island and most major islands.

Kaua‘i was considered free of the small hive beetle until May, when the state Department of Agriculture confirmed samples taken from a residence in Lihu‘e and from the apiary at Kaua‘i Community College in Puhi.

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

Hawai‘i Pollinator Week coincides with National Pollinator Week to raise awareness of the issue of declining pollinator populations.

In Hawai‘i, there has reportedly been significant hive loss attributed to the varroa mite, small hive beetle and diseases. Loss of bee hives is a threat to the agricultural economy on all islands because bees are necessary to pollinate many crops. 

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