News Release – NR08-21 – September 9, 2008

Posted on Sep 9, 2008 in 2008 News Releases, News-Releases

HONOLULU – Varroa mites were detected in a wild beehive near a runway at Hilo Airport over the weekend.  This detection makes the fourth site within a two-mile-long coastal area that varroa mites have been found in wild bee colonies in the Hilo area.  On Saturday, Hawai`i Department of Agriculture (HDOA) staff collected 2,277 bees at the airport hive and lab extractions run on Sunday found one mite.  HDOA staff returned to the hive on Sunday and collected an additional 653 bees, which were tested yesterday and found to have four mites.  That hive has been destroyed.

This most recent detection of varroa mites raises the number of bee mites found in the Hilo area to 43 mites from a total of about 33,000 bees collected.

August 22 – 12 mites found in a swarm trap
August 23 – two mites were found in a wild hive
August 29 – 24 mites found in a swarm trap
September 6-7 – five mites found in a wild hive

Varroa mites have not been detected in any managed hives in Hilo.

“We are still optimistic that we can eradicate bee mites from Hawai`i Island,” said Neil Reimer, manager of HDOA’s Plant Pest Control Branch.  “The relatively low number of mites we have found in relation to the number of bees that were collected, coupled with the close proximity of the detection sites are signs that the infestation may have been caught early.”


HDOA personnel from Oahu have been rotating assignment to Hilo to assist Hawai`i Island staff in the management of the situation.  The State Health Department’s Vector Control Branch has been assisting HDOA in destroying infested hives in the Hilo.  In addition, personnel from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plant Protection and Quarantine office and University of Hawai`i at Manoa Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences Department have also provided assistance in Hilo.

HDOA continues to urge Hilo residents to report wild beehives and bee swarms to the State’s toll-free PestHotline at 643-PEST (7378).  HDOA is also asking beekeepers and the public not to transport bees or beekeeping equipment in or out of a 15-mile radius of Hilo Bay.

Varroa mites are serious honey bee pests that occur almost worldwide.  In April 2007, varroa mites were reported by a beekeeper in Manoa, Oahu.  At that time, it was determined that varroa mites were already widely established on Oahu.  Since then, HDOA has been monitoring swarm traps around ports as an early detection method in case any varroa mites hitchhike to neighboring islands.   More information on varroa mites is available on the department’s webpage at:

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