Hi NOW: Bayer Honey Bee Program

Honey bees may be small, but they have a big job. They are responsible for pollinating the widest range of crops of all pollinator species. In fact, the honey bee is responsible for pollinating one-third of the world’s crops, including the fruits, vegetables and nuts we enjoy every day. The impact that this tiny creature has on farming and our food system is invaluable. Lead Entomologist with Bayer, Krishna Bayyareddy, and seed technician Zachary Solarte share with HI Now some of the challenges they face every day in the agriculture fields of Hawaii.

Since the late 1990s, beekeepers around the world have observed the mysterious and sudden decline in honey bee colonies. Various causes could include Varroa mites, disease, poor nutrition, intentional and unintentional pesticide exposures and challenging weather conditions. The largest threat is the Varroa mite, an external parasite that attacks honey bees and their brood. In an effort to save the honey bee population, Bayer is in the process of creating a product that specifically targets Varroa mites, which we are working on with the Honey Bee Health Coalition of beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusinesses and other groups, who are working together to improve honey bee health.

Bayer recently created its own honey bee home at the Kunia Farm, planting diverse flora that will attract honey bees and other pollinator insects. The company basically created a sanctuary of two 10-frame Langstroth hives for honey bees to live and work on the farm. The bees can build honeycombs into the frames of the hives which can be easily removed, inspected and moved without hindering the integrity of the hive. All of the interior parts of these hives are spaced perfectly so that the bees can move about with ease. The bottom portion of the hive is called the Brood Box, where the queen bee lays her eggs, and drones or male bees, help nurture the hive and female worker bees feed the larvae and store nectar and pollen. The top portion of the hive is called ‘Super’ where the worker bees deposit honey.

Honey bees are responsible for pollinating one-third of the world’s crops, including the fruits, vegetables and nuts we enjoy every day. However, in addition to agricultural crops, the honey bee contributes to biodiversity and environmental stability by pollinating several native plants that serve as habitats and food sources for wildlife across the islands.