Tuesday, December 04, 2007


Varroa mites may already be on the Superferry due to Dept. of Agriculture neglect

by Larry Geller

It seems that the Department of Agriculture is supposed to eradicate wild (feral) colonies of bees near ports so as to prevent the spread of the devastating Varroa mite to Neighbor Islands.

Part of an email sent by Dr. Michael Kliks to key legislators and others yesterday explains the situation. He notes in the email that the feral hive described below was tested and found to be infested with Varroa mites:

Last Tuesday afternoon, November 26, we removed a large hive of bees from a pipe flange on the roof of 206 Merchant Street, which is literally a stone's throw from where the Super Ferry was berthed at the time. . . and had been berthed for about 2 weeks.

Our concern is that feral colonies close to any port or airport, such as this one, were to have been removed physically or through the use of attractant or toxicant-baited traps, by the HDOA long ago. If the HDOA is actually conducting active monitoring and surveillance, and if an effective trapping and extermination program is in place, there should be no more feral colonies in the zoosanitary cordon zones around these sensitive facilities. Whatever the HDOA claims to be doing, it is not preventing feral hives from existing in, and swarms from entering into, and the sanitary cordon around our ports and airports.

In a nutshell, the Dept. of Agriculture failed to remove wild bee colonies from nearby the Superferry as they were supposed to, according to Dr. Kliks (can we call this a "security zone?"). Now one of these colonies has been found to be infested with deadly mites.

If Varroa mites make it to Neighbor Islands, Hawaii's organic honey industry could be wiped out. The mite is also thought to be a contributing factor to Colony Collapse Disorder which is wiping out bee hives on the Mainland. Hawaii currently exports queen bees to the Mainland—those exports would be endangered as well if the infection spreads.

If the infection spreads and wipes out bee hives on the Neighbor Islands, any agriculture dependent on bees for pollination would also be adversely affected. In other words, it's not just a bunch of little insects we're talking about here. It's a whole economic ecosystem. Farmers would be hurt too.

Although Dr. Kliks did not call for it, shouldn't the Dept. of Agriculture take steps to disinfect the Superferry before it is allowed to go to another island?

Watch out Maui, the first invasive specie (and it's a baaad one) may be headed your way.


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