Pollinator Use and Management: Training in Sustainable Practices for Ag Professionals
The UH Honeybee Project has conducted a number of educational, outreach, and extension activities since the last report. These activities provide an opportunity to interact face to face with producers, government officials, students, and the public in general, and contribute to raise awareness about the relationship between bee health and sustainable agriculture in Hawaii. Western SARE’s contribution as a sponsor was noted in all PPT presentations and on the documents produced.
In addition to these public gatherings and educational efforts, the bee team continues to work on a one to one basis with growers that need bees and beginning beekeepers that have need for advice or in farm technical assistance. Instruction for farmers and beekeepers at the Maui educational apiary that was built in collaboration with the Hawaii Apiary Program is ongoing and beekeeping workshops are scheduled for February.
The development of teaching materials for the beekeeping manual is ongoing, some documents that will be part of this publication are now posted as handouts (downloadable PDFs on the website) but will be incorporated and standardized in format for the manual. We have contacted a translator to initiate the translation into Tagalog, which is meant to address the need of the large Filipino farmer population.
The objective of this grant is to provide instruction and assistance to agricultural professionals and stakeholders via workshops, printed materials, and online resources.
We are progressing in all fronts with respect of the development of materials, the contact with stakholders and professionals, and also the public in general.
The goal is to establish a Beekeeping Course for growers that can be offered via the Outreach College at UH. We are currently working at determining what is needed to offer a pilot program by the Fall of 2015.
We are also consolidating video resources to illustrate management practices that will improve the introduction and maintenance of bees in gardens and farms.
Website “Hawaii Pollinator Resource Center”
A beta version of the website is now available for review among selected stakeholders and extension agents. We are asking for input in ease of navigation and content. We will incorporate the stakeholders comments and suggestions, and proceed to announce the release of the site by March 2015. The website content is now already being accessed by agricultural training facilities such as the Kohala Center on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Oral presentations and workshops
June 2014 – The UH Honeybee Project held a 5 day workshop for school teachers interested in bees and agriculture. The workshop included visits with growers and beekeepers which in a way also showed the producers that there is great interest from the public side and that they will benefit by helping educate the public. There twelve participants in this workshop. Dealing with teachers that are in a sense a pre-selected group by displaying interest to join such a prolonged workshop gave us an insight on the educators basic knowledge, and although not growers, these educators are the ones prepping the students that want to do gardening or farming. Probably the most beneficial aspect of this experience for our team is that it help us to assume nothing, especially when it comes to bee biology or bee health concerns, and to work from the ground up in building materials for the producers that have no experience with bees.
July 2014 -This summer the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (our project belongs to the PEPS Department within CTAHR) offered a farm tour for legislators. Approximately 55 agricultural professionals attended the workshop, which was offered as part of the WSARE Professional Development Program AgPro 2014 led by Dr. Radovich from CTAHR. The participants included CTAHR researchers, specialist and agents, Hawaii Department of Agriculture, USDA NRCS, agricultural consultants, decision makers, etc. CTAHR selected the bee project to be one of the “hosts” during the visit, as such we were able to talk to the legislators at the apiary, and to show them live bees, honey comb, pests and parasites, as well as discuss the needs for pollination that our farmers are facing and why training is of upmost importance. Additionally the participants received printed materials that outline the work conducted by the UH Honeybee Project and the importance of bees as agricultural pollinators in Hawaii.
This workshop led to a number of one on one contacts and requests for more training by agricultural consultants and trainers. Among these new contacts is the GoFarm Hawaii, a program that provides training to people wanting to become farmers. One of the GoFarm sites is located in CTAHR – University of Hawaii Manoa land and we had a couple informal site visits since July, and are now coordinating with their program to deliver formal training on the use of cover crops for soil and pollinator conservation to the staff of GoFarm and the trainees.
July 2014- The team participated in the Hawaii Ag. Discovery Program, a APHIS – USDA sponsored program that aims to introduce students that are potentially interested in a career in agriculture to the programs in CTAHR. Our team provided lectures, bee yard visit, and honey extraction experience to students from the mainland US and the outer Hawaiian islands.We hosted 10 prospective students and 3 accompanying supervisors. The workshop was rated 4.9 out of 5, 5 being the best. (12 gave a 5 rating and 1 a 4 rating). Our participation in this program was meant to provide a sense of diversity of interests of the College, as well as showcasing how pollinators can be used for production. Although not directly linked to trainers, the program is meant to attract young people that are considering enrolling in agriculturally based programs.
October 2014- The team gave oral and hands on workshops at the Statewide UH Master Gardener Conference held in Kahului – Maui. This statewide reunion provided an opportunity for the Maui based master gardeners to showcase their apiary, built with our and HDoA support. The talks and activities included honeybee pest examples, alternative pollinators displays, and a visit to the new pollinator garden at the Maui facility.
Records were kept only on the Master Gardeners that attended the conference, 88 in total (with a number of them flying to Maui to attend the workshop: 8 from Hawaii, 8 from Kauai, 20 from Oahu). The 88 participants listed do not include public in general, and local growers. It is estimated however that attendance was around 120 individuals. Master Gardeners are directly responsible to answer questions about pests, and IPM practices from backyard gardener and small-scale growers. Master Gardeners also interact on a regular basis with extension agents, especially in rural areas and/or in smaller islands such as Kauai and Maui, thus increasing their knowledge about pollinator issues has an impact on growers.
October 2014- Participated in the “All About Pollinators” weekend at the Pearl City Urban Garden Center on Oahu. This open to the public meeting attracts small-scale farmers that want to get information about plant varieties and a large number of backyard growers.
48 Master Gardeners attended, plus a handful of backyard growers. The presentation has led to increased interests in beekeeping and pollinator issues. This in turn has made us begin the request to Outreach College to create a beekeeping course to be able to formally train these future trainers.
From our presentation/activities during this workshop we established a contact with a group that is developing an agricultural training site in Waimanalo called Sustain Hawaii and their associated Palaka Moon Farm. This group independently received funding from a large donor here in Hawaii, and receives a fair amount of press for their educational efforts. The group proposed to their funding agency that they will provide information and training on beekeeping issues, however their own staff does not have bees yet and is in need of more rigorous training before they can become the trainers. Based on that initial contact, their staff will be receiving weekly training at our apiary starting on March 23, 2015, following a six-month training period we will provide loan hives to assess their competency and eventually help them establish their own program and independent apiary. This kind of hands on, slow but steady contact, has shown to be the right model for us, as many people have an initial interest in bees but fail to have the dedication needed to supervise and tend to them in the long run. In this case in particular, training the staff of Palaka Moon Farm will help growers interested in bees received sound advice from a well trained crew.
November 2014 – We have established a formal collaboration with the College of Education to impart instruction on sustainable agriculture to local teachers that are interested in agriculture. The instruction takes place on weekends or during school breaks and will continue until June 2015. This teacher link is extremely important because this particular group of teachers has strong ties to Native Hawaiian communities. Native Hawaiian students are often underprivileged and have many problems with health and dietary choices, as such, much emphasis is now been given to help these students learn more about agriculture, local food production, and the environment.
The small hive beetle (SHB), a pest of honey bees that continues to be involved in colony losses in Hawaii has now been reported in Italy and is also been spreading south in Central and South America. In response to this situation, we were asked to participate in multi-country forum in Costa Rica during November of 2014 (representatives from the Department of Agriculture from Mexico, El Salvador, Panama, and Costa Rica participated in this meeting). We provided talks and produced a handout for the participants. The handout produced in Spanish (samples pages attached of the 16 page image rich document) is based on the SHB educational that are being developed in English for the Beekeeping Manual.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Public lectures, workshops, and activities have raised the awareness of growers, extension agents, teachers and students on various islands.
The establishement of the Maui apiary in collaboration with the Hawaii Apiary Program from Dept of Agricultue has faciliated the delivery of weekend workshops on beekeeping and will be used as a model for future developments across the islands.
Creation of educational materials and dedicated website will help growers and educators find resources that link agriculture and beekeeping.