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UH Hilo receives funding for beehive research

The governor signed a bill today supporting statewide research into beehives to be conducted by the University of Hawai‘i system. This includes research at UH Hilo’s farm laboratory to develop more efficient methods for controlling the small hive beetle.

Attending today’s bill-signing ceremony at the Hawai‘i State Capitol are (l-r) Russell Kokubun, director of the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture; Lauren Rusert, apiary technician, HDOA; Lorna Tsutsumi, professor of entomology, UH Hilo; Jacqueline Robson, apiary program planner, HDOA; Governor Neil Abercrombie; (behind the governor) Rockne Freitas, UH system vice president for student affairs and university/community relations; Danielle Downey, Hawai‘i state apiarist, HDOA; Donald Straney, chancellor at UH Hilo; Scott Enright, deputy director, HDOA; and Neil Reimer, plant pest control manager, HDOA.

At ceremonies at the Hawai‘i State Capitol today, Governor Neil Abercrombie proclaimed this week Hawai‘i Pollinator Week and signed a bill into law that appropriates funds to the University of Hawai‘i for statewide beehive research. UH Hilo Chancellor Donald Straney attended the signing along with UH Hilo Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi, UH Vice President Rockne Freitas and officials from the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture.

A total of $30,000 in funds will be allocated as follows: $5,000 each for Hawai‘i county, Maui county, the city and county of Honolulu, and Kaua‘i county; and $10,000 to UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management.

Media release from the Office of the Governor:

HONOLULU – In an effort to raise awareness of a threat within the State’s agricultural economy, Governor Neil Abercrombie this afternoon proclaimed June 18-24 as “Hawai‘i Pollinator Week.” Governor Abercrombie also signed into law a measure that will aid Hawai‘i’s fight to control pests and diseases that have been impacting the state’s bee populations.

House Bill 2100 appropriates $30,000 to the University of Hawai‘i (UH) system for bee hive research done in consultation with the Hawai‘i Department of Agriculture on Hawai‘i Island, Maui, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i. This will include work being performed at UH Hilo’s 110-acre Panaewa farm to develop more efficient methods for controlling the small hive beetle, a major pest of honey bee hives on Hawai‘i Island.

“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 Governor Abercrombie. “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.

Governor Abercrombie added: “By marking Hawai‘i Pollinator Week in conjunction with National Pollinator Week, our state is helping to create a positive ‘buzz’ around bees and promote bee health as a vital component to healthy food systems and natural ecosystems.”

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.

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