CTAHR researchers request public's help in locating wild honeybee colonies

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Oct 19, 2009

University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa researchers are soliciting the public’s help in locating wild honeybee colonies on Oahu.
The UH Honeybee Varroa Project—directed by Dr. Mark Wright and Dr. Ethel Villalobos of the Department of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences in the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources—is conducting an island-wide study on viruses in honeybees transmitted by the varroa mite. Due to its impact, the number of wild honeybee colonies has decreased dramatically, impacting pollination of many crops grown in Hawai‘i.
Historically, thanks to geographical isolation, bees in Hawai‘i have been relatively free of pests and diseases that have spread throughout the mainland. But in March 2007, the varroa mite (Varroa destructor) was discovered on Oahu and later, in August 2008, was detected on the Big Island.
The varroa mite feeds on the haemolymph (blood) of developing larvae and adult bees. Parasitized larvae weaken or may die of the impacts of being parasitized. Varroa infestation is often associated with the spread of bacterial diseases and viruses. The most common of these viruses is the deformed wing virus, which can severely reduce the foraging population of a colony.  UH researchers will be collecting and sampling honeybees for these viruses.
Anyone seeing a wild honeybee colony on O‘ahu is asked to contact the UH Honeybee Varroa Project at 956-2445 or uhbeelab@gmail.com. For more information, visit: http://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/wrightm/Honey_Bee_Home.html.