Video by Matt Binder & Lynn Beittel, Visionary Video| Voice of Stephanie Salazar
KOHALA COAST, Hawaii: The beekeeping industry on the Big Island is struggling for survival, thanks to a perfect storm of invasive pests threatening Hawaii’s hives.
So, it was a good time for apiarists from around the world to gather at the international Western Apicultural Society’s annual conference – held Sept. 12 through Sept. 15 – at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel.
The conference was a chance for beekeepers to talk story and hear presentations like this one from Jim Bach, president of Apiary Inspectors of America…
Cary Dizon, president of the Big Island Beekeepers Association, explained why beekeeping has been such a big hit Hawaii Island, citing the year round mild temperatures.
But Dizon says the challenges are mounting, and threaten the apiary industry. The invasion of the varroa mite on the Big Island in 2008, followed by the devastating small hive beetle in 2010, has weakened hives around the island.
Luckily, it appears as if Hawaii has managed to avoid the devastating – and mysterious – colony collapse disorder.
While current beekeeping conditions in Hawaii created a serious undertone for much of the Western Apicultural Society’s conference, there was still time to enjoy the fun side of the profession… like honey… during the 2nd annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge!
Attendees all had one thing in common – a love for the honeybee. For folks like international photojournalist Kodua Galieti, the tiny creatures are an inspiration.
Not all bees are beloved, however. Dizon warns of a potential new threat to Hawaii in the form of killer bees! She says it is plausible that the Africanized Honey Bee could arrive in the island and make a huge impact, taking advantage of the void left by the weakened honeybees that are already here.
Luckily, the conference has given beekeepers a chance to get together to talk, and maybe find solutions for the long list of challenges that facing the industry.
And for those interesed in knowing who the winners of the Honey Challenge were, the Big Island Beekeepers Association have provided the list:
* Overall winner in the liquid category: Christmas berry, wild flower honey from Pahoa submitted by Ron Hanson, Best Big Island Bees
* Overall winner in the solid category: Ohia Lehua flower honey from Volcano submitted by Henry Iucker, Daddy’s Stolen Honey
* Winner of the People’s Choice Award: Ohia Lehua honey from Glenwood submitted by John Hanson.
Runners up in the individual categories were:
* Best appearance (liquid): Honey derived from multiple fruit blossoms (citrus, passion flower, avocado, various fruit trees, beginning Jacaranda) from Upcountry Maui submitted by Michael McCoy, Ainalani Farms.
* Best appearance (solid): Ohia Lehua honey submitted by Shawn Harris, Wao Kele Farm.
* Best aroma (liquid): Macadamia, tropical flower and citrus honey from Kalaheo, Kauai submitted by Joyce Takahashi, Miki Macs.
* Best aroma (solid): Mixed wild flora honey from Mountain View submitted by Patrick Weder, Lotus Buddhist Monastery.
* Best texture (liquid): Albizia, citrus, palm and guava honey from Lower Puna submitted by Jen Rasmussen, Paradise Nectar.
* Best texture (solid): Ohia Lehua honey from Glenwood submitted by John Hanson.
* Best taste (liquid): Albizia and palm honey from Kurtistown submitted by Cary Dizon.
* Best taste (solid): Mango honey from Kalapana submitted by Ron Hanson, Best Big Island Bees.
Judges for the sweet competition included: Danielle Downey, state apiary specialist; Stephen Coffee, science instructor in local schools; Jane Horike, county economic development specialist who grew up with bees and a passion for local foods and products; Hope Johnson, raw food advocate and food writer; Sonia Martinez, cookbook author and freelance food writer.
The judges, who spent more than five hours tasting honeys, were rewarded with gift baskets that included honeys from four of the best known apiaries on the Island: Volcano Island Honey Company, Big Island Bees, Mo Bettah Honey, and Weo Kele Farms plus Honey and Mele Macs from Big Island Princess.
These sponsors are the contest’s major contributors to whom the contest organizers owe a special debt of gratitude.
The contest organizers included registrar Catarina Zaragoza and the members of the challenge committee, Vo Collins-Toribo, Pat Chu, Cary Dizon, Sonia Martinez, Jen Rasmussen, and Wendy Westlake. Others who lent a hand include: Maria “DiDi” Diaz, Margarita “DayDay” Hopkins, Mike Klungness and Frankie Stapleton.
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