It's so sweet to see Hawaii in the news for something other than “vacation in paradise,” “buy a piece of paradise” or “they're poisoning paradise.” Kudos to state Attorney General Doug Chin for successfully challenging Trump's latest executive order travel ban. When your intent is to discriminate, it's pretty hard to disguise it.
Here's some more good news. Kauai's bees are buzzing along just fine, thank you. Yup, even though a recent pollen study detected miniscule levels of pesticides, the island's honey bees are robust, in strapping good health.
|Capturing a swarm.|
In fact, “Kauai has some of the healthiest bees in the world — or at least, the country,” said Scott Enright, director of the state Department of Agriculture.
So concluded Danielle Downey, the former state apiary specialist who conducted the study in 2015. It was financed by a $12,000 Kauai County grant, which was issued after people freaked out during Bill 2491, claiming that the westside seed companies were killing and poisoning bees.
“This study showed this was not the case,” Enright told the Kauai County Council yesterday.
“During the infamous Bill 2491, many claims were made by proponents of the bill,” Councilman Ross Kagawa said. “And they had some very serious accusations that people were dying, babies were being born deformed, cancer was on the rise, and of course, that bees were dying at a rapid rate. So based on your study, are those claims true or false, regarding the bees?”
“False, Enright relied.
And yet another bogus claim bites the dust. Indeed, not one of those accusations was found to be true.
Downey took 200 samples from 23 sites, from Kekaha to Haena, and they were tested for 212 different chemistries. One sample, taken at Kekaha, detected chlorpyrifos (Lorsban) at 12.5 part per billion, which Downey declared “an insignificant number.”
“It was the only hit for an ag RUP (restricted use pesticide) in everything,” Enright said.
On the other hand, fipronil — a product used in ant, flea, roach and termite control — was found in every sample. And then there were “chemistries [fungicides] used in green houses, mostly on the North Shore, that showed up in concentrations in hives on the North Shore,” Enright added.
Uh, what have we been saying all along? “Big ag” ain't the problem, folks! It's us! It's you!
As Enright reminded us, Kauai had the highest honey production in the world during sugar's heyday.
|Absolute Kauai honey.|
Never one to pass an opportunity to self-promote, Carl Berg told the council about a study he did to determine whether there was any glyphosate (Roundup) in Kauai honey. It was funded by Surfrider, conducted with dubious protocol — beekeepers could send in their own honey samples, opening the possibility for contamination, as opposed to Danielle, who collected pollen herself — and he's still writing up the results, supposedly for publication in a scientific journal. We shall see... And it was a bit disengenous to claim he “collaborated with Dr. Downey,” when in fact she discouraged the honey testing.
At any rate, Berg supposedly found glyphosate in 37 percent of the samples he tested — again, in extremely small amounts, but there is no allowable pesticide level in honey. Though it's hard to imagine that any honey doesn't have at least some residue, since pesticides are found in pollen all around the world, and thus ostensibly would be found in the honey. So you might think twice about paying more for "organic" honey.
The pollen study “didn't test for glyphosate because bees don't react to it,” Enright said. “In talking about bee health, they have no reaction. I didn't know about that until I had a conversation with Danielle.”
One would expect a joyous reaction from beekeepers to the news that Kauai bees are in great shape. Except when it doesn't fit their agenda, as is the case with beekeeper and anti-GMO activist Jimmy Trujillo.
Looking grim as he addressed the Council, Trujillo said: “What can we do to protect our bees and the livelihood of our beekeepers? We are prepared to find out.”
As a beekeeper, Trujillo should know it starts with good hive hygiene. As in quit neglecting your bees. And let's not forget he was the one who transported a box with the small hive beetle from the Kauai Community College apiary to Kapahi, thus facilitating the eastside spread of that destructive pest.
But shhh. Let's just keep blaming ag, instead of taking any responsibility ourselves.