Pollinator Use and Management: Training in Sustainable Practices for Ag Professionals

Final report for EW13-010

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $65,386.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2016
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Ethel Villalobos
University of Hawaii
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Project Information


Our project involves the creation and delivery of information about pollinators in Hawaii. Our target audiences are farmer, beekeepers, Ag Professionals that work in close contact with the stakeholders. We have been working on multiple fronts including creating educational materials, print and web, with an emphasis on local practices, climatic singularities, and cultural preferences. We foster communication between local growers and beekeepers, and we try to create public awareness about pollinator health and conservation.

Project Objectives:

The original objectives from the grant are:

1- a series of educational workshops on pollinator and pollinator friendly farming techniques,

2- a series of printed materials that can be distributed to agents and eventually used to educate growers,

3- a website where agents and stakeholders across Hawaii and the Pacific region can access and download educational materials on pollinators and pollinator friendly farming strategies,

4- online courses for agents and stakeholders illustrating beekeeping practices and pesticide reduction strategies for vine crops.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Scott Nikaido


Educational approach:

The educational approach for this project including the creation of site-representative educational materials (includes videos, handouts, posters, and a book called Introduction to Tropical Beekeeping), the creation of a website for online distribution of materials, establishment of training sites, and delivery of workshops.

EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS: One of the largest components of this project has been the creation of educational materials addressing Hawaii specific issues for farmers and beekeepers (Objective 2 in the proposal).

The bulk of the information has been condensed into a manual titled “Introduction to Tropical Beekeeping” that is rich in illustrations and can be downloaded as individual chapters from our website at http://hawaiipollinator.com/news_hub.htm

The manual is a 60 page of relatively basic information “sprinkled” with much locally produced research and observations. Among many things the manual explains how the Varroa mite changed the viral profile of the bees in Hawaii and introduces the local stakeholders to pests we have and pests we should be in the look out for such as tracheal bee mites.

The no-cost extension we received allowed us to complete the creation of 3 more chapters that are currently being formatted and will go up by the end of the summer. These additional chapters include the following topics:

Honeybee Supplementary Feeding

The what, when, and how on bee pests

These chapters are currently being formatted and we hope to have them up for download by August 2017.

In addition to the Beekeeping Manual there also a number of educational materials available at our website including single page handouts and educational posters.

Examples of the diversity of the handouts below:

Reflective Mulch Shinning Bright in Waianae, Organic Farming in Hawaii, Soil: The Skin of the Earth, Pollinator Friendly Gardens, Pollinators in Hawaii and Carpenter Bees.

Most recently we have entered a video competition from the Entomological Society of America ESA meeting to be held in Colorado this fall. The video titled “The Odd Couples” reflects our efforts to educate stakeholders and the public on the importance of pollinators and bee health.

A link to the video will be submitted to Western SARE privately and the video will be made public as soon as ESA has made its decision regarding the competition.

WEBSITE: In 2014 a new website “Hawaii Pollinator Resource Center” was created with the goal of reaching the local farmers and ag. professionals.


This website was a main component of our Proposal Objective # 3 and over the course of this grant period we have continued to build and add resources to this website. Some of these resources are in Ilocano, Tagalog, and Spanish in order to reach local Filipino immigrant farmers and Latino beekeepers, which are often hired by the big commercial queen breeders.

In order to make the website have a broader appeal we have included links to educational materials from other sources. Among these is a series of PBS videos called “You’re your Food” about agricultural sustainability (see links on home page under NEWS), recent links to TED’s talks, and a list of EPA approved chemicals to fight the most problematic bee pest the varroa mite.

We continue to monitor the traffic to our website in the FatCow hosting service and we are pleased to say it is increasing.

The number of hits/day has almost tripled compared to what it was as when we first created the website, now reaching 113 hits/day.

We anticipate more growth as new material from the Tropical Beekeeping Book gets added to the website.

The number of pages viewed daily has continued to grow since 2015, and is now at 38.5 pages/day. A great sign reflecting our ability to deliver information through this website.

Finally, on average 250,000 Kbytes of information gets downloaded from our website each month. Suggesting interest from the part of the site visitors.










Education & Outreach Initiatives

Workshops and outreach

Our Education and Outreach activities encompass training to Ag Professionals (Extension Agents) to young children. We aim to increase awareness about local food production, and in our case we emphasized how bees contribute to food production. Examples of activities are provided


2016- Annual meeting of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) in Honolulu. This large multi-state meeting allowed us to reach western state beekeepers and growers of bee dependent crops. We shared 4 oral presentations at the meeting.

2015 – Pollinators at the ZOO event – Honolulu Zoo all day educational event about pollinators. 

2014 Grow Hawaiian Festival This all day event was aimed at the general public but is attended by a number of growers, especially those with an interest in theenvironment and conservation.



Outcomes and impacts:

Our work with the community and the importance of bees in Hawaii has been recently highlighted by this UH News video







Educational & Outreach Activities

50 Consultations
20 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
20 On-farm demonstrations
10 Tours
10 Webinars / talks / presentations
30 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

30 Extension
15 Researchers
10 Nonprofit
10 Agency
200 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

200 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
30 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

2 Grants received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:


The project is succeeding in creating a community of interested and more ecologically aware beekeepers and farmers. The change in attitude expressed by the participants in the workshops indicates a positive impact of being exposed to lectures, lab activities, and field experiences. The educational materials, although a bit slow in development, are being created with high standards and expectations, and we are confident that the end result will be accurate, attractive, and useful to the stakeholders.

Our goals for the remainder of the grant are to complete the Beekeeping Manual, and complete the videos that are now under production. We also hope to intensify our visits to stakeholders and ag professionals in other islands to bring them up to date with the educational resources, new information collected on the small hive beetle by our team, and the new viral research that is coming out to press this Spring. The ESA Pacific Branch meeting that will take place in April 2016 is a perfect forum for dissemination of information beyond Hawaii. Our hope is to alert scientists, extension agents, and other ag professionals of the new materials and promote their use.

I am attaching a list of documents which represent some of the newest additions to the project.

The link to the website is 


Please feel free to browse and we welcome comments and suggestions.

The link to the video about honeybee swarming that is currently being edited and refined is https://youtu.be/6VP45xPo2bY


Progress milestones January 2016

Objective 1- Outreach presentations/workshops

During these past few months we have been able to reach a large diversity of audiences from Master Gardeners, to beginning farmers participating in agricultural training at UH farms, established and novice beekeepers, school children, and legislators.

The UH team has been providing beekeeping instruction to the Master Gardeners working at the UH managed Pearl City Urban Garden Center on Oahu. The meetings take place every first Saturday of the month (for the last 5 months) and cover a number of practical beekeeping management including pest control and disease monitoring. A total of 8 Master Gardeners attend these sessions.

In June 2015- during National Pollinator Week – we reached out to the Honolulu Zoo to set up a series of activity and instructional stations, an observation hive, and a cardboard castle, in a large classroom area located in the Children Zoo. I am attaching a separate file in which we describe the activities, and an additional file of an Activity Passport that we created for the children to use. SARE is credited as a supporting partner to this education event.

In September, in direct collaboration with the Hwasii State Apiary program, we hosted the Honey Queen, an ambassador from the National Honey Board. We helped schedule school visits and an additional all bee exhibit at the Honolulu Zoo. During the Fall 2015 we also conducted several workshops on Oahu and Maui with beginning farmers and Ag. Professionals. The reviews of the Oahu groups are included in this report. One of the workshops was beginning farmers and the other one was a mix of farmers, Master Gardeners (8) and Extension Agents and Ag Professionals (5).

 We are working hard at creating a sense of community and partnership between farmers and beekeepers. On November 5th we had our first Beekeeper-Farmer Get Together on campus (see attached flyer). The topic for this meeting was honey. We talked about honey’s medicinal properties and the market value of certain honeys. About 25 stakeholders (farmer and beekeepers) attended and we are planning another group meeting in February, and continue on a trimester schedule.

Most recently (December 2nd 2015) we were invited to provide a honey-tasting event and information for the Chancellor’s alumni dinner. This event’s theme was agriculture in Hawaii.

We are now offering an Outreach College class on Beekeeping in Tropica Regions. The class was capped at 20 students due to the logistics of field work. See attached flier for class announcement. 

Objective 2-Educational material production

The development and testing of teaching materials for the beekeeping manual is progressing. The section about the small hive beetle, originally created in Spanish, is almost completely in English now, and will be tested with a focus group of beginning beekeepers in February. These students are part of a course currently being taught through Outreach College at the University of Hawaii (see below). The students are also providing feedback on the section about bee biology and beekeeping equipment (attached with a watermark indicating it is a draft). We hope that their feedback helps us determine what aspects need clarification, or expansion, so that we can better serve the intended clientele.

We are requesting feedback of the material to extension agents in all islands. A total of 10 extension agents have been contacted to provide feedback on the website and educational materials. Although this is somewhat remote contact, we hope to increase the visitation to other islands now that the weather has settled a little. Face to face contact is best. Sadly we had severe storms during the end of fall and beginning of winter and consequently field days were hard to plan.

In additiion to print materials we began to produce and print 3D models of the varroa mite. These models are uinque and have attracted the attention of educators and extension agents. The printed mire is about 6 inches wide and 3 inches tall, and is fully anatomically correct. A great tool to use when the actual parasite is no larger than a pinhead in size.

New content material now integrated to the developing Beekeeping Manual include

  • Honeybee parasitic mite biology
  • Honeybee swarm biology (English version)
  • Sweet facts about honey

Objective 3- Website “Hawaii Pollinator Resource Center”


New materials created by our team now posted in the “Hawaii Pollinator Resource Center” website include:

  • Honeybee Swarms (in English, Ilocano, and Tagalog)
  • Sweet facts about honey

In order to make the website have a broader appeal we have included links to educational materials from other sources. Among these is a series of PBS videos called “You’re your Food” about agricultural sustainability (see links on home page under NEWS), recent links to TED’s talks, and a recent list of EPA approved chemicals to fight the most problematic bee pest the varroa mite.

We have been monitoring traffic to our website and we are pleased to say it is increasing. From Feb to May 2015 the site averaged 34.5 hits/day, from June 2015 to January 2016 the average per day hits increased to 99.6. The number of visits/day in that same time period has more than double from 6.25 to 15.1 visits/day respectively. The number of pages viewed also increased from an average of 12.25 pages/day before June 2015 to 27.3 pages/day after June 2015. In summary, during the last 8 months we had an average of 437 visitors per month to our website, and an average of 853 pages consulted/month. A screen shot of the webstatistcs for the site is attached.

Although we are claerly happy that the trafiic to the site is improving, we expect the increase in web traffic to continue to go up based on the following upcoming activities.

  • In April of 2016 the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America will hold its annual conference in Honolulu. Two members of our team are scheduled to give presentations about our ongoing work, and our website and projects will get more exposure at a national level. In addition, this will provide an opportunity to promote the educational materials in our site.
  • In October of 2016, the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) will hold their annual meeting here in Honolulu. I am this year’s president for WAS and I can help promote the educational outreach materials in this event. This will bring additional exposure to western state beekeepers and growers of bee dependent crops that typically attend this conference

Objective 4- Video instruction

In addition to print materials, we have now entered the testing phase for educational videos. Our focus group of students, beekeepers, growers, ag professionals, and academics. A link to a BETA-stage video about honeybee swarming is included below. The video includes animation and live footage. First digital 3D models and graphics with texts help illustrate the stages the colony goes through during swarming. The computer generated images match materials included in the Beekeeping manual, so they complement and support each other. The animation is followed by a short video of a swarm catching in the field. A link to a private YouTube video is provided below. We will be requesting comments from the course participants as well as seasoned local beekeepers to further improve the video’s instructional value before posting it on our website and making it available to the public through YouTube and the USDA Xtension website. We would also really appreciate some feedback directly from WSARE as well.


Once the video is finalized it will obviously be posted in our website along with a short written explanation of the importance of swarm inspections in varroa-free islands. This is a matter of bio-security that is unique to some islands in Hawaii and Australia, which remian varroa-free.

The end goal of the videos is not to provide an online beekeeping course, but rather to create an online access to information and practical advice that complements the Beekeeping Manual we are creating.

The attached files represent materials developed for web, materials in revision for the Beekeeping Manual

10 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
100 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Western SARE provided support for us to travel and hold meetings and workshops on other islands. These workshops focused on pollinators, including non-Apis bees. As such, we worked holistically and looked at the bee health of the pollinator community in Varroa free areas such as Maui. The result is an interesting comparison of disease prevalence among pollinators that live in Varroa positive Oahu, and Varroa negative Maui. This work will help us raise awareness among local beekeepers and growers of the importance of not moving beehives between islands, and of bio-security in general.Through the partial support of Western SARE we were able to combine the interest of growers on alternative pollinators with an important scientific finding. The research is part of the MSc thesis of one of my graduate students, Jessika Santamaria and when is accepted for publication we will communicate Western SARE of its availability. 


Education and outreach projects require follow ups but also need to build local capacity for self sufficiency and continuity. Beekeeping is an important, easy accessible trade that can not only provide added value to a farmer's land but also help the community as a whole. Learning to keep bees takes time, and especially now with sudden climate changes and weather disruptions, inexperienced farmers and beekeepers may encounter more difficulties. Please continue to support projects that have shown promise so they can provide a stable learning platform for the community. We were very grateful for the no-cost extension we received which allowed us to complete much work. Aloha!

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.