Harmful mites recently found on Oahu bees
I've been reading about bees disappearing all over the mainland and wondered if we are having the same problem in Hawaii.
Answer: The immediate problem for the state is the discovery on Oahu just two weeks ago of the varroa mite, described as "one of the most harmful pests to smite the honeybee population globally" (starbulletin.com/2007/04/14/business/story03.html).
Since then, state entomologists have found the mites on bees in different areas of Oahu. Surveys were continuing on the Big Island and Kauai.
However, "colony collapse disorder," which has caused the disappearance of millions of bees in at least two dozen states, has not been detected in the islands.
In this phenomenon, bees leave their hives to forage for pollen and nectar, never to return. The cause remains a mystery.
The double whammy of the parasitic mites and colony collapse disorder is threatening honey production across the nation.
"So far as our entomologists know, Hawaii is not experiencing a situation like colony collapse disorder," said Janelle Saneishi, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture.
For now the department is trying to determine how widespread the mites are on Oahu and to keep them away from the neighbor islands.
The mites were first reported by Manoa beekeeper Michael Kliks on April 6, after he moved three abandoned hives from Makiki Heights to his Manoa apiary.
After his report, state entomologists found the mites at the Makiki Heights site, at a residence on Tantalus that had backyard hives and on bees kept in hives at the University of Hawaii-Manoa.
Just this week, it was confirmed that bees turned in to the Agriculture Department by commercial beekeepers in Kunia and Ewa "were lightly infested with the mite," Saneishi said.
However, surveys showed backyard hives in Maunawili were free of the mites, as were hives in Kona.
The department's Hilo staff is continuing to survey that part of the Big Island, Saneishi said, while the Honolulu and Kauai staffs were surveying hives on Kauai yesterday.
Asked how the state hoped to prevent the mite from spreading, Saneishi said "stopping the spread on (Oahu) is probably not possible."
"We are hoping that the mite has not spread to other islands, and that's why it is important that bees and beekeeping equipment not be transported interisland," she added.
To Mike Coad at Hawaiian Cement and John Mitchell at Bonded Materials Co. for donating materials for my Boy Scout Eagle project. Mahalo also to the county for the fencing material and to all the volunteers (Scouts, Scout leaders, parents and friends) who helped erect the chain-link fence at Ka Home Ma Ha Mau Cemetery. Without their help, it would have been impossible to complete the project. -- Casey Mortenson, Makawao, Maui
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