Bee FAQS

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faqsI want to keep bees! how can i get started? 

Check out our Hawaii Beekeeper Resource 11-2016 page that provides info on how to get started in Hawaii- including recommended books and websites. Check our BeeEvents tab frequently to see if we are offering any beekeeping classes in your area soon. Request a class in your area by emailing Noe at noelani.waters@hawaii.gov or calling (808) 339-1977.

I have a swarm of bees in my yard – what should I do?

Give us a call at 808-339-1977  or 808-352-3010.  We can provide referrals from our statewide list of beekeepers statewide who are interested in catching those bees! Please bee aware that individual beekeepers may charge for bee removals. A beekeeper will take the bees he/she catches and give them a new home and a job. This is far preferable to calling an exterminator – remember we need those bees for pollination of local crops!

Bees have moved into my wall / roof / shed, etc. – how can I get rid of them?

We can also refer for structural swarm removals. Please call us at the numbers above or  your nearest beekeeping association (see the Beesources page). These calls may require a lot of equipment and expertise. If left to multiply, bees, comb, and honey can cause damage.

 How can I get bees?

Ah, that’s a question we hear all the time! Remember – although many folks on the mainland just buy bees in the mail, it is illegal to import bees, alive or dead, into the state of Hawai`i. It’s been that way since 1908 and it’s subject to possible felony charges and fines of up to $200,000! So – your best bet is to politely contact a local beekeeper or beekeeping association (see the Beesources page) and see what they suggest. Psst – beekeepers! Consider raising bees for sale on your island (it’s also generally illegal to ship bees inter-island) – there appears to be a market for it!

What about “killer bees”? Do we have them here?

Killer bees are more correctly referred to as Africanized bees. These bees are closely related to our gentler European honey bees. Hawai`i does not have Africanized bees and we don’t want them! Africanized bees are very aggressive and may be able to take over European honey bee colonies in our warm climate. Besides being dangerous, Africanized bees are not very good honey producers – if they took over, many beekeepers here would be out of business. Click here for a fact sheet comparing the two types of bees. If you notice unusually aggressive bees, please contact us!

Are there laws about keeping bees in Hawai`i?  

No importation of bees is allowed into the state of Hawaii . Varroa mites are only found on Big Island & ‘Oahu. No shipment of queens from these Varroa positive islands to varroa negative islands (Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, & Kaua‘i) is permitted. All queen breeders shipping between islands must be inspected and certified by the HDOA Apiary Program.
Individual counties have ordinances that regulate beekeeping:

Honolulu C&C allows keeping bees- ordinances about animals and fowl can be found here – the bee info is highlighted on page 2.

Hawai`i County lists beekeeping as a permitted use only in the ‘A’ (Agricultural) District – you can find the ordinance here – see Chapter 25 Zoning, Section 25-5-72, bottom of page 25-61 (Livestock production…)

Maui County’s rules are a little more complicated – you may require a permit depending on your lot size/location – please contact the County of Maui Zoning Administration and Enforcement Division at 808-270-7253 for all the details.

Kaua`i County generally allows beekeeping in the Agricultural District but requires a Use Permit in the Residential District. Contact the Kaua`i County Planning Department at 808-241-4050 for more information.

Who are our Current Certified Queen Breeders? (updated on 2/21/2017): 

all breeders below are certified to ship off island.

  1. Hawaii Guerrilla Apiaries: hawaiigeurrillaapiaries@gmail.com, (808)756-6861
  2. Ono Queens: klepps.chris@yahoo.com, (808) 640-5630
  3. Karrus Queens: karrusqueens@yahoo.com, (808)854-5308
  4. Hawaii Island Honey Co. (David Thomas- VSH Queens): davidhoneybee@earthlink.com, (808) 966-9070
  5. Big Island Queens: https://www.ohbees.com/collections/big-island-queens; (808)328-9249
  6. Hawaiian Queens:http://www.hawaiianqueen.com/, (808)328-2656
  7. Kona Queens: http://www.konaqueen.com/

I am a Queen Breeder and want to become certified. What are the requirements, and what does an inspection entail?

-All queen breeders who ship off island (both within the state of HI and to US mainland or beyond) must be inspected and certified to ship by our Program.

-The shipping certificates expire every 90 days and must be renewed by re-inspection. We ask that you schedule with us 2 weeks in advance of the date you desire to ship.

-We require a minimum of 40 colonies to conduct a queen inspection. And we also ask that all queen breeders are part of our Hawaii Beekeeper Registry.

-During an inspection to a small queen breeder (under 1000 colonies) we visit 20 colonies at any yards related to queen breeding, up to 4 yards (yards must have a minimum of 20 hives). For        larger queen breeders (larger than 1000 colonies) we inspect 25 colonies from 4 yards (home breeding yard and 3 others of 20 or more hives each).

-We inspect ~4 brood frames from each colony for major brood diseases, EFB and AFB. If we find signs of these diseases we take a sample for analysis. Finding AFB restricts shipment              completely.

-We also do a mite shake from each colony inspected, taking about 1/3 cup of live bees (~300 bees) that are then shook in alcohol to determine a total varroa percentage from all samples.    The mite level from that inspection is listed on your certificate.  Each state has different requirements for shipment (HI and CA mite level must be under 3%, Canada must be under 1%).

3% mites would be 180 mites total from all samples combined.

-Lastly, we must inspect your queen packing facility to ensure it is enclosed and no holes to the outside are present to confirm that the facility is free from the presence of small hive beetle.

What is the National Honey Bee Survey (NHBS)?

The National Honey Bee Survey, in conjunction with the Bee Informed Partnership (BIP) and the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), is a comprehensive examination of colony health throughout apiaries in the United States.  The NHBS began in 2009 to address the emerging concern about the diminishing health of honey bee colonies.  This survey takes an epidemiological approach to document honey bee diseases, pests and pathogens.  Additionally this survey has a monitoring attribute that tests for the presence or absence of invasive threats to honey bee colony health.  These possible threats would be Tropilaelaps clareae, Apis cerana, and Slow Bee Paralysis Virus.  An additional objective of this survey is colony pesticide analysis to asses both the variety and quantity of pesticides present in honey bee hives.

How do I participate in the NHBS? What does the survey include?

 If you have more than 8 colonies in the state of Hawaii you are eligible to participate. We choose 24 beekeepers and queen breeders from across the state each year. Please call us at (808)339-1977 if you’re interested in participating in the 2017 NHBS!    During the NHBS we open 8 colonies, examine the brood box frames visually for any signs of disease (EFB, AFB, chalk brood, sac brood, etc.) and shake one brood frame into a shallow tub and take a 1/2 cup of live bees (~300- 450 individual bees) from each of the 8 colonies. ¼ cup of that ½ cup from each hive is funneled into a live bee box that is a composite sample of all 8 colonies. It will be shipped overnight expedited to the USDA lab in Maryland that will put them in a deep freeze (-80’ F) upon their arrival to preserve the viruses (if present) and then they will be examined for about 8 viruses. The other ¼ cup is funneled into a large alcohol vial, also a composite sample. Those bees will be analyzed for varroa, nosema, apis cerana (Asian bee not found in US), in the Maryland lab. Lastly, we will take one frame of open brood from each of 8 colonies and do a frame bump two times on each side of the frame into a shallow metal pan. At the end of the survey the pan will be washed with water and all debris will be collected with a screen and preserved in a vial with alcohol. This screen and debris will be examined for tropilaelaps mite (a parasitic mite native to Asia and not yet found in US). The report generated will confidentially show you your personal results and also show how your results compare generally to others in your state and across the country. It usually takes 3-6 months to receive results, depending on when they are sent.

I am a beekeeper who produces and sells honey. What are the Dept. of Health regulations to sell honey in Hawaii?

§328-79  Home-based agricultural producer of honey; exemption.

(a)  A home-based agricultural producer of honey shall not be required to process honey in a certified honey house or food processing establishment, or be required to obtain a permit from the department, if the producer:

(1)  Sells less than five hundred gallons of honey a year;

(2)  Sells the honey directly to consumers or directly to a retail store that in turn sells the honey directly to consumers;

(3)  Labels each container of honey sold with:

(A)  The name and address of the producer;

(B)  The net weight and volume of the honey, by standard measure;

(C)  The date the honey was produced;

(D)  The statement, “Honey should not be consumed by infants under one year of age.” in clear and conspicuous print; and

(E)  The statement, “This product is home-produced and processed and has not been inspected by the Department of Health.” in   clear and conspicuous print;

(4)  Attends a department of health approved food safety workshop and passes the food safety certification exam; and

(5)  Keeps honey production volume and honey product distribution records for a period of at least two years and makes the records   available to the department.

(b)  The State and counties shall not be liable for claims associated with honey distributed by home-based agricultural producers   of honey; except for instances of gross negligence and intentional misconduct by the State or counties. [L 2005, c 63, pt of §1; am   L 2013, c

What is the Hawaii Seal of Quality? How do I get this label for my honey product?

This seal may be applied only to:

(1)Fresh agricultural products that have been entirely produced in the State and that meet the requirements

(2)Value-added processed agricultural and food products for which the primary agricultural product has been entirely produced in Hawaii

What is the process? Apiary Program goes to the apiary and documents hive status, health, and attests that honey is from those hives. Then visits the certified kitchen packaging facility and observes honey being bottled and labeled in a certified kitchen. Pictures of operation, certificates, hives, equipment, kitchen, label are taken and logged in report.

Bee Girls with Bee Facts:

 

Lauren and Danielle share some bee facts, produced in 2014 by Akaku Maui Community Media. Worth a watch!

Bee Facts