THE UH HONEYBEE PROJECT
The relationship between humans and honeybees is ancient. Cave paintings in Spain, South Africa, and Nepal, show "honey hunters" collecting honey from wild hives. Over time, man became a beekeeper rather than a bee raider, and apiculture began. Methods for keeping bees in hives were developed and improved, and beekeeping spread around the world.
Honeybees were introduced to Hawaii in the 1850's and a thriving beekeeping industry developed. Bees, however, produce more than just honey for us. Honeybees pollinate many of the tropical crops we produce in Hawaii and consequently they are integral component in the food production web in the islands.
Due to geographical isolation the bees in Hawaii have been relatively free of pest and diseases which have spread throughout the mainland. In March of 2007, one of those pests, the varroa mite, was discovered in Oahu and subsequently, in August of 2008, the mite was detected in Big Island of Hawaii.
The varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is one of the most serious pests of honeybees and it has been associated with the spread of viral diseases and the decline of honeybee colonies in the mainland. Our team is working on a number of aspects related to the arrival of varroa to the islands including varroa management techniques, varroa containment, and health assessment of the local honeybee colonies.
We are interested in developing practical treatment options for local beekeepers and establishing a sound research program that focuses on maintenance and improvement of the Hawaiian honeybees. Reducing the likelihood that the mite will invade other islands, and restricting the big island invasion is also a high priority, and we are investigating procedures for preventing feral bees from being inadvertently transported among islands on ship containers and other vessels.
The goal of this website is to keep beekeepers and farmers informed of the bee-varroa issues in the islands and to facilitate the transfer of information from the University to the public. In the download page you will find general information about mite biology, sampling and detection techniques and research updates.
Aloha and thanks for visiting our website.