Testing hives for pesticides

LIHUE — A public informational meeting tonight kicks off a collaborative state and county effort to ensure Kauai’s pollinators are protected.

“There has been much concern for honey bee health globally, and Kauai is no exception,” Danielle Downey, apiculture specialist at the Hawaii Department of Agriculture, wrote in a recent email to Kauai beekeepers. “Having heard these concerns on Kauai, the Kauai County Council made an effort to assist Kauai’s beekeepers with funds to test hives for exposure to pesticides.”

Tonight’s meeting will provide an opportunity for county and state officials to gauge community interest, present information about the study, understand concerns and issues of pesticide exposure on local beekeeping and recruit beekeepers to participate in a survey.

Hosted by the county and HDOA, in collaboration with the Kauai Community College Apiary Program and the Kauai Beekeepers Association, the meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at KCC in the lecture hall (ENTRO RM 114) of the Daniel K. Inouye Electronic Technology Building.

KBA President Jimmy Trujillo said the survey will help local agencies determine what impacts, if any, pesticides are having on local beekeeping. 

“The results will help us understand if there are any threats to bees, their hive products and the surrounding areas where honeybees forage for pollen and nectar,” he wrote in an email. 

In May, former Council Chair Jay Furfaro introduced a resolution tasking the county Office of Economic Development with establishing an annual $12,000 grant so local beekeepers could test their pollen. The annual “Bee Pollen Testing Grant” will fund testing of 20 samples — $450 each — from local apiaries registered with the state.

The remaining funds will be used to fund travel for state Department of Agriculture’s Apiary Program personnel to make additional visits to Kauai to meet with beekeepers, according to the resolution.

Trujillo said pesticides and pollinators have been mixing it up for years, with disastrous results for the honeybee. By participating in the study, local beekeepers will help determine or validate any perceived or actual threats to Kauai honey producers. 

“Hopefully, this may help determine what actions, if any, are needed to maintain honeybee health on Kauai,” he wrote.  

Local beekeepers are being sought to participate in the survey. Field samples will be collected by Downey and sent to a U.S. Department of Agriculture diagnostic facility on the Mainland for analysis, according to a release.

“We are hoping beekeepers will volunteer hives to be tested throughout Kauai, to represent as many locations and situations as possible, in hopes to get this valuable information,” Downey said.

Info: (808)936-5483 or ddowney@hawaii.edu.

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