This course provides a hands-on introduction to tropical beekeeping. The uniqueness of Hawaii’s microclimates, which directly impacts the bees’ behavior, makes it difficult to incorporate many US mainland-based beekeeping management techniques. This course offers a practical, yet thorough introduction to bee biology, colony health management, pollination services requirements, and honey production strategies, all with a sense of “island-bee-knowledge”. The course is suitable for beginners and novice beekeepers. Staff of the UH Manoa CTAHR Honeybee Project, walk you through the basics, from equipment to pest monitoring, treatment and honey bottling. The course includes classroom activities as well as field days.
- Honeybee biology and ecology
In this class, we discuss the relationship of bees and man, with an emphasis on the important characteristics that make social bees, such as the honeybee, suitable for management. The biology of solitary bees, which are also important pollinators, will be presented in a comparative fashion, to ensure the participants understand the similarities and differences between these important pollinators.
- Beekeeping equipment
During this session we go over the common beekeeping equipment, why and how certain items are utilized, and what are pros and cons of different hive styles. We also introduce alternative methods of bee pest control, including treatments against varroa mites and management practices against the small hive beetle. Finally, we introduce students to the proper use of certain items through a visit to the apiary.
- Inspecting a colony: pest and diseases of bees
This class begins with an activity in which we introduce the recent pests and diseases of Hawaii’s bees, followed by a field exercise involving students in practicing how to inspect a colony and make health assessments.
- Colony management (pest and swarm control)
This section focuses on common beekeeping practices that promote health and reduce beekeeper bee loss due to swarming. Participants receive classroom demonstrations and instructions on what to do and what equipment and tools can be employed, followed by a visit to the apiary. We discuss what kinds of visual signs signal the need for swarm control and also have hands-on training on how to apply varroa treatments.
- Honey harvesting
Participants receive classroom instruction about honey and honey processing, followed by a hands-on honey extraction and processing. Class includes discussion of honey quality and the difference between organic and raw honey.
- Beekeeping in residential areas
The final session focuses on urban beekeeping and how to safely introduce bees to residential areas; we also address the regulations that are currently in effect for different islands. The session stresses safety, sustainability, and responsibility to neighbors and fellow beekeepers.