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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hawaii beekeepers making progress against varroa mite

Advertiser Staff

Hawai'i beekeepers are making progress battling the devastating varroa mite with a pesticide approved late last year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The local field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Statistics Service reported that a treatment using vaporized formic acid in bee colonies is giving beekeepers some momentum in their fight against the mite.

Varroa mites are a parasite that kill honeybees. Use of the formic acid kills a large percentage of mites, allowing beekeepers to control infestation, the USDA report said.

The report estimated that Hawai'i honey production rose 6 percent last year to 950,000 pounds from 900,000 pounds in 2008 when beekeepers reported that extreme dry weather and the varroa mite hurt production.

Last's years production increase was due to an improved yield per colony, which was up 6 percent on average. The number of honey-producing colonies was unchanged at 10,000.

The average price producers received for honey was $1.63 per pound last year, up 3 percent from the year before. Combined with the production increase, total farm value of Hawai'i honey last year was $1.5 million, up about 8 percent from $1.4 million a year earlier.