“Bee Mite Image”

Beekeepers and farmers are concerned that the tiny varroa mite, that is infesting beehives in all parts of Oahu, may kill off 90 percent of wild hives on the island. This could have a huge impact on agricultural crops that depend on bees for pollination.

The state has launched an aggressive campaign to prevent the spread of the mites beyond Oahu, and in particular to keep them off the Big Island, the heart of the state’s bee industry. Big Island farmers and beekeepers are watching Oahu’s situation closely, and they are worried.

The potential effects begin with the honey business, whose statewide value is about $1.5 million annually.

Beekeepers also make millions of dollars selling healthy queen bees to the mainland for use in starting new hives. But the value of bees to crops is far more significant than the honey and queen business. It is a major threat to agriculture throughout Hawaii.

Coffee is self-pollinating, but bees certainly help increase the crop size, and a healthy orchard will have thousands of bees working it when the

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