Helping to maintain UH Hilo’s apiary teaches students the importance of our island’s bees

Two Hawaiian language students created a video on beekeeping done entirely in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language).

The Farm Laboratory of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, located in Pana‘ewa just south of Hilo, is home to about 50 beehives with the total number of bees at an estimated 500,000. The apiary is maintained by students and is used for hands-on learning of beekeeping from hive to market to table.

Mele Adams, a senior at UH Hilo, helps take care of the bees on the farm. She manages the bee hives when beekeeping labs aren’t in session and helps to manage the honey products as well.

“I had friends who took the course and told me about it,” says Adams, referring to the UH Hilo course on introductory beekeeping. “I was able to volunteer at the bee farm all summer and ended up getting a job at the bee farm, so I decided to take the course.” Entomology 262 is taught by Professor Lorna Tsutsumi, an entomologist and expert in beekeeping whose contributions to bee awareness in the state has brought her and the program recognition by the State Senate.

Mikiʻala Taylor, Kawehi Lopez and Mele Adams in full body beekeeping suits. Bee boxes with bees congregating in background.
(l-r) Mikiʻala Taylor, Kawehi Lopez and Mele Adams at UH Hilo’s apiary in Pana‘ewa.

Kawehi Lopez and Mikiʻala Taylor, both juniors studying Hawaiian language, created the video above, highlighting basic beekeeping techniques and practices in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi (Hawaiian language) as a final project for their Entomology 350 Advanced Beekeeping course last semester, a follow up course for students who have already taken Entomology 262. Both students hope to create a series of informational videos as well as a booklet in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi.

“We chose to create an educational video that incorporated ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi because of our shared passion for the language,” says Lopez. “We believe ʻōlelo can be encompassed in all aspects of life. As students in second year Hawaiian language, we felt that this beekeeping project would help strengthen our ʻōlelo and reinforce the content that we were learning in both classes.”

UH Hilo has been highly active in its efforts to bring greater awareness to the honey bee, an important and vital pollinator of many crops. This is especially important on the Big Island where bees are under serious attack from two major predators, the varroa mite and the small hive beetle. UH Hilo’s Beekeeping Certificate helps to recognize the level of achievement in beekeeping gained by UH Hilo students and will assist them in future career positions. All courses have hands-on laboratories and are taught primarily at the UH Hilo Farm Laboratory in Pana‘ewa.

For more information, contact Professor Lorna Tsutsumi.

Amber Manini contributed to this report.