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

2015 Annual 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

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


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.

Objectives/Performance Targets

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.


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

Impacts and Contributions/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


Scott Nikaido

[email protected]
Graduate Student
University of Hawaii
3050 Maile Way
310 Gilmore Hall
Honolulu, HI 96822
Office Phone: 8089562445
Website: http://www.uhbeeproject.com/