Bee-Coming Sustainable: Community event held at UH Hilo ag farm highlights beekeeping program

At the “Bee-Coming Sustainable” event, UH Hilo students Beija Ramos-Phair-Langi and Macy Iliahi Park were each awarded $1,000 bee scholarships; Valerie Zbezinski received her beekeeping certificate.

Valeria holds her beekeeping certificate, Chancellor Irwin stands with her for photo.
UH Hilo beekeeping student Valerie Zbezinski receives her beekeeping certificate from Chancellor Bonnie Irwin at the “Bee-coming Sustainable” event held April 13, 2024, at the university’s farm laboratory in Panaʻewa. (Photo credit: Norman Arancon/UH Hilo)

By Susan Enright.

Adopt a Beehive with Alana Wong logo with a pineapple that looks like a a honey comb.The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s agricultural farm laboratory in Panaʻewa hosted a special event on April 13 to honor students, community donors, local farmers, island chefs, and others who are part of the university’s collaborative bee program.

At the heart of Saturday’s “Bee-coming Sustainable” event is a community-based partnership between Professor of Entomology Lorna Tsutsumi from UH Hilo’s College of Agriculture, Forestry, and Natural Resource Management and coordinator of the apiary program located at the university’s farm, and renowned Chef Alan Wong, local restaurateur and co-founder of the university’s “Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong” program.

Wong, known as one of 12 co-founders of Hawaiʻi Regional Cuisine, teamed up with Tsutsumi and UH Hilo to build awareness and promote local solutions to sustaining the honey bee industry in Hawaiʻi.

Saturday’s event brought together community beehive adopters to connect in person with the beekeeping students and see the beehive they sponsor at UH Hilo’s farm laboratory. The event was held about 50 yards away from the farm’s apiary where the adopted beehives are kept.

“It was a wonderful gathering of like minded people who support the bees, sustainability, and the education of future beekeepers,” says Tsutsumi.

At the event, two UH Hilo students, Beija Ramos-Phair-Langi and Macy Iliahi Park, were each awarded $1,000 bee scholarships. Valerie Zbezinski received her beekeeping certificate (see photo at top of this post). UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin was there to do the presentations with Chef Wong.

Two students stand with Chef Wong, all holding a huge check written out for $2,000.
Alan Wong presents UH Hilo students Beija Ramos-Phair-Langi (left) and Macy Iliahi Park (right), with their scholarships during the “Bee-Coming Sustainable” community event held April 13, 2014, at the UH Hilo farm laboratory in Panaʻewa. (Photo credit: Norman Arancon/UH Hilo)

A group of students from Oʻahu also joined the celebration. High school students from ʻIolani School and Punahou School, whose club has adopted a beehive, pitched in $1,000 to the UH Hilo bee program and helped out as servers at the event.

In addition to Chef Wong, there were other guest chefs and culinary educators preparing food and hosting festivities at the event.

  • Lauren Tamamoto is a certified food scientist with over 15 years of food manufacturing experience. She teaches courses at Kapiʻolani Community College incorporating food safety, food science and culinary arts including a food innovation course.
  • Alan Tsuchiyama is a professor at Kapiʻolani Community College’s culinary arts program, now in his 23rd year at the school. He, like Chef Wong, is an alumnus of the KCC culinary program and has positively impacted and guided students to become vital contributors to the local and global culinary industry.
  • Sodexo Dining Services, the primary food service provider on the UH Hilo campus, was represented by the university’s dining services manager Bridget Awong and catering and retail manager Reid Kusano who both continually find new ways to promote local farms and food producers. Sodexo launched a highly successful “Local First” program at UH Hilo in 2012 that uses 65 percent locally sourced foods to promote farm-to-table dining.
Dining services crew of five stand for photo behind a table filled with plates of food.
UH Hilo Sodexo team with plates of food prepared for guests at the “Bee-Coming Sustainable” event held April 13, 2024. From left, Makana Matsuyama, a UH Hilo graduate who is the lead food worker at Sodexo; university’s dining services manager Bridget Awong; production lead Ivan Gariando; catering and retail manager Reid Kusano; and supervisor Malynda Pestano. (Photo credit: Norman Arancon/UH Hilo)
Chef Wong, Lance Duyao and Chancellor Irwin stand for photo. Chancellor is holding a gift wrapped box. All three are wearing lei.
Big Island Candies announced at the event they will be offering a special Bee Sunny Box only for the month of May. From left, Chef Wong, Director of Retail Operations for Big Island Candies Lance Duyao, and Chancellor Bonnie Irwin who is holding a Bee Sunny Box. (Photo credit: Norman Arancon/UH Hilo)

Big Island Candies logo.Big Island Candies announced at the event they will be offering a special Bee Sunny Box only for the month of May. Part of the proceeds from sales of the boxes will be given to the university’s bee program.

Adopt a beehive!

Photo of a bee in an ohia blossom, and the words: The Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong program has awarded more than $27,000 in scholarships to beekeeping students at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Learn More.Readers of this story who would like to adopt a beehive at the UH Hilo apiary, and support the research and development of healthy beehive practices in Hawaiʻi, are invited to visit the UH Foundation website to learn more about how to file “adoption papers.”

Adopters will receive periodic reports and photos of the assigned bee colony from the UH Hilo student taking care of the hive.

Adopters also will receive a personal supply of honey and honey products, along with invitations to join Chef Wong at bee- and agriculture-related activities held on campus or at the UH Hilo Agricultural Farm Laboratory in Panaʻewa.

Story by Susan Enright, a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.

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