- Animals: bees
- Education and Training: mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
- Pest Management: biorational pesticides, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, integrated pest management, physical control, traps
- Production Systems: holistic management, organic agriculture
- Sustainable Communities: local and regional food systems, new business opportunities
In 2008, the varroa mite was found on the Big Island of Hawaii for the first time. Since then it has been spreading rapidly among commercial beekeepers. The parasitic varroa mite has been known to destroy up to 90% of wild hives and beekeepers can easily lose all or a majority of their managed hives. The varroa mite is not just a beekeeper’s problem, it is a food production problem that will affect commercial farms as well as the backyard gardener. The Hawaii State Department of Agriculture predicts that Hawaii Island could lose all of its feral (wild) bees. The State Department of Agriculture estimates that Hawaii’s agricultural industry will lose $42 – $62 million from the loss of feral bees. When wild honey bees no longer pollinate crops, farmers will have to hire managed bee colonies to sustain production, if managed hives are available. Since there is a ban on importation of bees to Hawaii, if the bees die out replenishing managed hives may present an unanticipated problem. Pollinated-dependent crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers and melons will experience losses in both quality and quantity. Bees also assist in pollinating fruit and nut trees- coffee, macadamia nuts, citrus, avocado, and guava. The loss of wild hives will likely mean lower production and quality in farms and private gardens and fruit trees.Beekeepers on the U.S. mainland have been impacted by and managing varroa for 30 years, but there are very few examples of varroa management of organic beehives of Apis mellifera (European honeybee) in year around beekeeping (no winters) tropical environments. Beekeeping in other tropical areas such as South America use the africanized honeybee. The varroa mite in Hawaii is even more challenging for organic beekeepers, as none of the "soft chemical" treatments are approved by National Organic Standards. The Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture has filed a petition with the NOSB for Mite Away Quick Strips (formic acid- developed for Hawaii's climate) to be included on the list of allowable organic substances. The University of Hawaii has been testing a variety of natural treatment methods, teaching and sharing results. However, organic commercial beekeepers on Hawaii Island have almost no practical experience in using any of these methods. Volcano Island Honey Co. (VIHC)has developed, but has not tested, an IPM (Integrated Pest Management Strategy). Volcano Island Honey proposes to test in the field the methods recommended by the University of Hawaii as being effective- MiteAway quick strips, powdered sugar dusting, screened bottom boards, and drone comb management. VIHC will evaluate from the perspective of an organic commercial apiary whether these treatments are cost effective, practical and effective, as well as observing the impact on the bees, and testing the honey for residue (with Mite Away). VIHC will share this practical varroa management experience with other commercial, backyard and agriculturalist beekeepers. VIHC has a long history of educating the community on sustainable agriculture and beekeeping, including a recent WSARE grant focused on making & teaching about organic wax foundation for bees.In addition, as a strategy to help offset the possible losses of feral bees, as well as commercial losses suffered when the mite sweeps through a commercial operation- VIHC seeks to encourage the placement of organically managed hives in agricultural operations and backyards and to teach beekeepers how to organically manage hives with varroa.In order to strengthen and maintain the bee population on Hawaii Island, in the face of the varroa mite, Volcano Island Honey proposes to:1) Field test varroa management strategies - Drone comb management: 65 hives with farm made organic drone foundation / 65 hives with plastic foundation - Powdered Sugar Dusting: delivery of organic powdered sugar with backpack sprayer and hand sprayer - Mite Away Quick Strips: 60 hives to learn how to use it, observe how it impacts bees, and test honey for formic acid residue. - Screened bottom boards and sticky boards: how to manage and use.2) Educate commercial, backyard and agriculturalist beekeepers about organic beekeeping and organic varroa management in Hawaii, through: - Beginning and intermediate beekeeping workshops - Sharing of information learned through: PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, Blog and Twitter posts.
Project objectives from proposal:
1) Field test varroa management strategies
- Drone comb management: 65 hives with farm made organic drone foundation / 65 hives with plastic foundation (Revised to 10 hives initially)
- Powdered Sugar Dusting: delivery of organic powdered sugar with backpack sprayer and hand sprayer
- Mite Away Quick Strips: 60 hives to learn how to use it, observe how it impacts bees, and test honey for formic acid residue. (Revised to 10 hives initially)
- Screened bottom boards and sticky boards: how to manage and use.
April, 2010: Purchase drone comb roller, plastic foundation, backpack sprayer, hand sprayer, organic sugar, Miteaway quick strips, screened bottom boards, sticky boards. Hire research and teaching assistant.
April/May, 2010: Make drone comb foundation. Place organic wax foundation in 65 hives and plastic drone foundation in 65 hives. Monitor hives. Test and Remove every 20 - 23 days. Install sticky boards in all hives. Ongoing monitoring.
April- Sept, 2010: Ongoing monitoring/management of drone comb every 20 - 23 days.
April - Oct, 2010: Powdered Sugar treatments.
Nov, 2010: Treat 30 hives with Mite Away Quick Strips. Monitor hives.
Jan, 2011: Treat 30 hives with Mite Away Quick Strips. Monitor hives.
2) Educate commercial, backyard and agriculturalist beekeepers about organic beekeeping and organic varroa management in Hawaii, and increase number of managed hives, through:
- Beginning and intermediate beekeeping workshops
- Sharing of information learned through: PowerPoint presentations, YouTube videos, Blog and Twitter posts.
Aug 2010: Class curriculum and teaching tools: PowerPoint, handouts. Order class equipment.
Oct- Nov 2010: Beginning & Intermediate Beekeeping Classes
Jan 2011: Boost videos to YouTube. Create and boost informational webpage(s). Blog & Twitter posts.