International Bee Conference Coming to the Big Island of Hawaii

Hawaii’s “idyllic days” as a beekeeper’s paradise are over, according to Danielle Downey, state apiculture specialist,  leading to a “crash mobilization of Hawaiian beekeepers and supporters of the industry who are fighting for the survival of their bees.” In line with that mobilization, the international Western Apicultural Society is holding its annual conference Sept. 12-Sept. 15 at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel in South Kohala.

Big Island Bee Conference

Puna beekeeper Jenn Rasmussen checks a hive for the invasive small hive beetle. Apiary recovery following assaults by Varroa mite and small hive beetles will be a focus of the Sept. 12-15 Western Apicultural Society's annual conference at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The public is invited.

Downey is one of several nationally known apiary specialists speaking at the four-day conference that will focus on new research and bee colony recovery; the state of Hawaii beekeeping, its problems and successes; and alternatives to conventional beekeeping, according to Jenny Bach, WAS first vice president and one of the conference organizers.

“Beekeepers are scrambling to save their operations in the face of massive and sudden losses,” Downey said, adding there is “no easy fix” for honey farmers, queen breeders, or agricultural interests who are wondering what happens if they lose their crops’ pollinators.

Big Island Bee Conference

Larry Connor, PhD., will speak at the Western Apicultural Society's annual conference to be held Sept. 12-15 at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The beekeeping columnist and Wicwas Press publisher will also present a day-long masters' workshop in Hawi on Sept. 16 on rebuilding the apiary after losses.

Bee specialists coming from the Mainland to give conference presentations include Jim Bach, president of Apiary Inspectors of America and for 25 years, the Washington State Apiculture specialist; Dewey Caron, PhD., University of Delaware Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology and affiliate faculty with Oregon State University, Corvallis’s Horticulture Dept. and a continuing researcher into Africanized bees in the Americas; Christi Heintz, pollination research manager for Project Apis m. (PAm) and the Almond Board of California; and Larry Connor, PhD., Wicwas Press publisher and columnist for both the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture Magazine. Other mainland speakers will be Randy Oliver, beekeeper and researcher who maintains the website; Serge Labesque, natural beekeeper in Sonoma County, CA.,  who teaches beekeeping at Santa Rosa Junior College and 2006 recipient of the WAS Thurber Award for Inventiveness; Sam Comfort, owner of Anarchy Apiaries who practices treatment-free beekeeping; and David Barnes. an expert on Varroa mite and small hive beetle control from Florida. Eric Mussen, PhD., University of California-Davis extension apiculturalist and five-time WAS president, will give welcoming remarks the evening of Sept. 12.

In addition to Downey, Hawaii-based speakers will be Patricia Couvillon, PhD., University of Hawaii-Manoa associate professor in the Pacific Biosciences Research Center and the Department of Psychology, a 30-year researcher into the learning and cognition across species; Ethel Villalobos, PhD., University of Hawaii Honeybee Project researcher on sustainable methods for Varroa mite and small hive beetle management; Michael Kliks, PhD., owner of Manoa Honey Company, former consultant to the World Health Organization and president of the Hawaii Beekeepers Association; Jenny Bach, owner of Bee Love Apiaries in Pepe’ekeo and founder and director of the Honeybee Education Program and Honeybees for Farmers Project; Cary Dizon, Glenwood beekeeper and president of the Big Island Beekeepers Association; Ron Hanson, owner of Puna’s Best Big Island Bees and trainer of beginning beekeepers; and Scott Nikaido of the UH Bee Lab.

Big Island Bee Conference

Volcano encaustic artist John Matsushita will demonstrate painting with bees' wax Sept. 14 at the Western Apicultural Soceity conference at the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. The public is invited to take part in the 2nd annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge that evening at the hotel.

Conference field trips on Sept. 14 will offer a choice of excursions to a Kona queen bee farm in Captain Cook or Volcano Island Honey Company on the Hamakua Coast. Exhibits and a silent auction will be featured throughout the four days.

BIBA’s 2nd annual Hawaiian Natural Honey Challenge will be held in conjunction with the conference, with the public tasting and awards announcement at the hotel scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Sept. 14.

The public is invited to the WAS conference. Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel is offering a special conference and room rate of $159 a day; daily registration is $45 and includes lunch and refreshments. Registration forms are available at or by calling conference organizer Cary Dizon at 966-7421.

“It is indeed a very interesting time for apiculture in Hawaii,” Downey said, “so we hope you will join us for the WAS meeting to witness Hawaii’s unique beekeeping situation as it is coming through this crisis.”

The public may register for daily attendance at: http://www.bibahawaiibees.or/News/WASRegistrationform.pdf or for the entire conference at:

Two beekeeping workshops are scheduled on the Friday and Saturday, Sept. 16 and 17, following the WAS conference.

Author and publisher  Larry Connor will offer a day-long class, “Master Class: Rebuilding the Apiary After Losses,” from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16. This post-conference workshop will take place at Ka Hana No’eau farm near Hawi. The workshop fee is $50 and includes a copy of Connor’s book, Increase Essentials. For more information or to register, see

A two-day workshop of hands-on training with top-bar hives and in-class lectures by Sam Comfort  of Anarchy Apiaries, focusing on natural beekeeping practices will take place at Pu’u Wa’aWa’a Ranch in North Kona. There is an $85 fee for that workshop (some scholarships available); contact or call 640-0278 to register.

WAS is a non-profit organization designed to meet the educational needs of all beekeepers in western North American, including the western U.S. states; the Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, the Yukon; and the states of northern Mexico.

One Response

  1. Interesting-mahalo!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I do this to keep the spammers away * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.