Hawaii Veterans Master Beekeeping Program


For widest dissemination,

Great opportunities for military veterans and their families…

American Veterans (AmVets) Hawaii believe the HAVE-BEES Project will be a great success and has an impact in the Hawaii Veterans community. We are working on raising funds in order to extend the project on the other Hawaiian islands and/or increase the number of veterans in each island. It will be a sustainable beekeeping project. We, AmVets are happy to get involved with the project and ready to help fellow veterans in Hawaii in any ways possible.

AmVets Hawaii Beekeeping Letter of Intent


Hawaii Veterans Beekeeping Project (HAVE-BEE PROJECT) aims to develop beekeeping on Oahu and the Big Island in Hawaii by training and teaching veterans on honey bee biology, colony management. queen rearing and instrumental of queen bees and increase the income of veterans in rural areas.

HAVE-BEES project will train veterans by providing all the necessary materials (bee hives, colonies, and all the beekeeping equipment such as veils, smokers, hive toots, foundations, honey extractors and all the medicines for the diseases and parasites) for each participant veteran. Ten veterans from each Island will be chosen and trained on beekeeping in the first year, on queen rearing on the second year and on the instrumental insemination of the queen bees on the third year. All the veterans become Master Beekeepers and Queen Breeders during the project. They will have the opportunity to build a sustainable beekeeping business and produce honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, queen bees and produce package bees and/or nucleus colonies.

First Year:

Learn beekeeping basics – bee biology, equipment, hive building, honey extraction, pollen harvesting, making splits and more.

Second Year:

Learn advanced beekeeping techniques, graft queens, rear queens, manage colonies strategically to satisfy personal goals and more.

Third Year:

Learn mastery level beekeeping techniques, artificial insemination of queens, apiary management, commercial production and more.

Master Beekeeping Program Leaders:

Dr. Osman Kaftanoglu osman.kaftanoglu@asu.edu

Dr. Alicia D. Wills heartybees@gmail.com

Dr. Jason Graham jrgraham@hawaii.edu

Photos taken on 27 January 2018

Much Mahalo to Armando Martinez, Apiarist, owner of Hawaii Queen Bee LLC, Waialua, Hawaii, https://www.hawaiianqueenbees.com/ for hosting the Open Hive Demo today, 27 January 2018.


As always, much mahalos to our program leaders: Dr. Alicia Wills and, Dr. Jason Graham, University of Hawaii and Dr. Osman Kaftanoglu Arizona State University, School of Life Sciences.

Learn more about Hawaii Veterans Beekeeping Program

Commander Donovan A. Lazarus, donovan@amvets-hawaii.org

Hawai`i Beekeepers’ Association

Hawaii Bee Clubs

Raising Quality Queens in the Heart of Paradise






Besides being honey producers, bees are critical pollinators for many food crops, including melons, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, lychee, mango, macadamia nut, coffee, eggplant, avocado, guava, herbs and some flowering plants, such as sunflowers. HDOA estimated in 2007 that about 70 percent of Hawaii’s food crops depend on pollination by bees.

“The circumstances of this particular problem is that it’s good people noticed there was a problem and notified the Department of Agriculture, but it also highlights that if beekeepers are interested and want to do things like collecting swarms or doing hive removals, they really ought to be careful about what they do,” he said. “They don’t want to intermingle a new hive with their own stocks. That’s just asking for problems. There should be a quarantine, period. Watch it carefully. Be responsible.”

Small hive beetle adults are about four to five millimeters in length and are yellowish-brown in color, turning brownish, then to black at maturity. They feed on most anything inside a beehive, including honey, pollen, wax, as well as honeybee eggs and larvae. As they feed, they tunnel through the hive, damaging or destroying the honeycomb and contaminating the honey.

Golden Bee Learning Center





A History of Honey Bees in the Hawaiian Islands


The arrival of honey bees to Hawai’i

In the late 1890’s, interest in beekeeping rose dramatically for two reasons. U.S. Mainland entrepreneurs saw fortunes in ranching, and subsequently introduced large numbers of cattle to the Islands. Feed for cattle was needed to sustain large populations, so the industry began wide scale cultivation of kiawe. A native tree of Italy, this species was introduced to Hawaii in 1828 by Father Alexis Bachelot, head of the first Catholic Mission to Hawai’i (Greene 1941). Kiawe grows well in dry hot climates, yields nutritious beans for feeding cattle, shade for roaming herds, sturdy wood for fence posts, and an even and slow burn as charcoal. To increase kiawe bean yield, honey bee hives were established near ranching operations to promote pollination. In addition, it was found that kiawe nectar produced a very good light honey, so commercial honey production followed. Kiawe blooms from March until September, and a single kiawe tree with a thirty-foot spread has the potential to produce over two and half pounds of honey yearly (Nieman 1942). Kiawe forests rapidly expanded, and by 1935 one hundred thousand acres on Maui and even larger areas of the island of Hawai’i were covered with the trees, becoming Hawai’i’s foremost nectar source (Nieman 1942).

Sugarcane cultivation and the accidental introduction the sugarcane leafhopper Perkinsiella saccharicida Kirkaldy also stimulated the growth of the beekeeping industry. Leafhoppers feed on sugarcane and produce a sweet excretory product called honeydew. Bees in areas where sugarcane was cultivated found honeydew irresistible as a substitute nectar source. Though bees preferred nectar from flowers in bloom, they often turned to collecting honeydew when flowers were unavailable. The abundance of leafhoppers stimulated nectar collecting and produced greater honey yields. Colonies grew rapidly and hived off into new colonies.

The abundance of the sugarcane leafhopper prompted the Hawaii Experiment Station to take a more active interest in bee culture beginning in 1905. Station employees were instrumental in bringing new and improved strains of queens and worker bees to Hawai’i. Efforts were also made to increase the number and range of nectar and pollen sources.


O’ahu’s strategic placement in the Hawaiian archipelago saw the first introduction and successful establishment of honey bees cited earlier. The beekeeping industry itself was actually “born” on O’ahu, on a balmy Sunday afternoon in 1893 when a swarm of bees blown by the trade winds appeared in the back yard of the brothers Lee and Oswald St. John Gilbert in Honolulu (Nieman 1942). This marked the beginning of the Sandwich Island Honey Company. The brothers, having no prior knowledge of bees, quickly set up hives and immersed themselves in research. They eventually purchased the exclusive right to place bees on all islands (Chamber of Commerce 1941). Oswald St. John Gilbert earned the nickname the “Honey King.” O’ahu’s other honey venture, The Hawaiian Honey Company, was located in Ewa and managed approximately eighteen hundred colonies of hybrid bees, yielding some 180,000 pounds of honey annually. Incorporated in 1901, Hawaiian Honey Company shipped some fifty to sixty tons of honey and wax from Honolulu, and was famous for its “Crystal” and “Vitalic” brands. By 1907, the first beekeeping association was formed to advance and protect the interests of the industry. Commercial beekeeping interests were steadily growing. By the early twentieth century, the Sandwich Islands Honey Company and two other businesses had incorporated. At its peak, Sandwich Islands Honey was reported to have had ten thousand colonies in operation (Eckert and Bess 1952) and by 1908, an estimated twenty thousand hives were established on all major islands managed by seven corporations and numerous individuals (Crawford 1937). O’ahu’s beekeeping industry was most robust at the beginning of the twentieth century and reached its peak in the mid 1930s, but was later destroyed by Foulbrood. O’ahu did not develop ranching to the degree that the outer islands did, so the driving force that developed the beekeeping industry on those islands was not as evident here.

Other nectar sources

During the time of the industry’s rapid growth, Hawai’is predominant nectar source was kiawe, though many other nectar sources were available to island bees, including ‘ilima Sida fallax, lantana Lantana camara, guava Psidium guajava, koa Acacia koa, ‘ohi’a lehua Metrosideros polymorpha, ha’uoi or ‘oi Verbena bonariensis, pili Heteropogon contortus, ti-leaf Cordyline terminalis, California pepper Schinus molle, Christmas berry Schinus terebinthifolius, pineapple Ananas comosus, coconut Cocos nucifera, and other plants. However, the amount of nectar extracted from kiawe blossoms surpassed all other plants.

Propolis, a commodity lesser-known to many, is a mixture of plant resins and gums collected by workers to insulate the hive by sealing cracks and crevices. Propolis is collected using special equipment, or by scraping the propolis from the covers and edges of hives during inspections. Propolis is used in a variety of processed products including tinctures, toothpaste, and chewing gum. Given the multitude of products extracted from hives and the efficient, thorough job of plant pollination conducted by honey bees year-round in Hawai’i, it is no small wonder that the honey bee is an important resource to Hawai’i.

The first successful hives of bees arrived on O’ahu in 1857. Though honey bees slowly established themselves over the next few decades, few took interest in them. Only at the turn of the century when entrepreneurs saw a potential fortune in honey production, did growth ensue. Soon, lucrative honey ventures appeared on all major islands. Unlike O’ahu, Hawai’i Island’s interest in honey bees was primarily for algoroba Prosopis pallida pollination. Algoroba, a rich and nutritious cattle feed, is also known as mesquite, and known locally as kiawe.

AFB diseased hives


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American Veterans “AmVets” Hawaii is a 501(c)(19) non-profit, ALL volunteer Veterans Service Organization (VSO), https://amvets-hawaii.org. 100% of all donations received will directly fund our ROTC/JROTC Medals and Awards program, Hawaii Public Schools Essay Contests, the preservations of Ewa Battlefield, and other Memorials and Hawaii Historic sites. Your support will also help fund our annual Ewa Battlefield Pearl Harbor Commemoration, Veteran’s Day ceremony, and other events. And most of all, your support will support program initiatives to benefit our Veterans, transitioning Servicemembers, and their families with needed assistance and advocacy.


AMVETS Charities, Inc. participates in the Combined Federal Campaign through the Military, Veterans and Patriotic Services Organizations of America federation. Our Combined Federal number is of the 50,000 charities that participate in the CFC, only about 1500 – the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America – will have the opportunity to display the “Best In America” seal of approval. AMVETS Charities, Inc. is proud to be one of those chosen few. This seal of approval is a service mark of Independent Charities of America and is used under license. AMVETS NSF is responsible for the content of any materials in which the Service Mark is used.

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