Tests show there are no bee mites on Molokai
Molokai beekeepers and farmers can breathe a sigh of relief as recent tests have turned up negative for varroa mites. The invasive parasites are considered the most serious honeybee pests in the world. The mites were discovered in Manoa and Makiki on Oahu in early April and have since been found ravaging bee colonies all over the island.
Hawaii Department of Agriculture recently visited Molokai as part of a statewide survey to determine how widespread the honeybee parasite is. Prior to this, Hawaii beekeepers have been blessed with one of the few places in the world that had not been touched by this parasite. This allowed local beekeepers to operate without the medications that are popular on the mainland and in other parts of the world.
On Tuesday, April 24, Dr. Mohsen Ramadan, State Exploratory Entomologist along with colleagues, Ron Heu, Survey Entomologist, and Mach Fukada, Maui Entomologist, arrived early in the morning to begin all-day testing on Molokai for the mite. The survey was conducted on six apiaries within a fifteen-mile span on the southern coast of Molokai. Two hives from each location were tested, and samples were taken back to Honolulu for processing.
The official word from Dr. Ramadan came in on Thursday. “No varroa mites… on the south coast of Molokai.” This is great news for island beekeepers!
Similar studies were done the week before on the Big Island where results also tested negative. Now that there are mite-free zones in the state, attention must be directed toward protecting them.
We have a responsibility to keep the mites away from our island. There are a few ways you can help. Spread the word that there is a moratorium on shipping bees and used beekeeping equipment between the islands. If you have any beehives, be sure to check them regularly and maintain the hives. This provides the best environment for them to thrive and resist mite infestation. If you notice small red dots the size of a pinhead in your hives, report it right away to Dr. Ramadan at Mohsen.M.Ramadan@hawaii.gov.
We are grateful for the cooperation of island beekeepers who agreed to take part in the survey and allow their hives to be inspected. We anticipate additional inspections shortly. If you would like your hives to be included in the next survey, please email MolokaiMeli@iglide.net. There is no charge to the beekeepers for these inspections. We also appreciate the dedication of the survey team and their timely inspections. This time Molokai was not forgotten and this early mite-free declaration will be a key factor in protecting our island. Let’s keep Molokai mite free!