Bee smokeout

First photo: Emil Lynch of Maui’s Best Honey removes a honeycomb from a hive along Piilani Highway on Thursday morning while helpers Ayoub Kirresh (left) and Abra Quinn confuse the bees with wood smoke. Lynch said he is carrying on the tradition started by Maui “bee whisperer” John Bejenaru, who died in April. He said that Bejenaru, who was born in Romania, had been keeping bees for 65 years. “I tell people, I’m not taking over anything, I’m carrying on a legacy.” He said bees have evolved with forest fires, so the smoke tricks them into evacuating the hive rather than defending it.

Second photo: With bees disappearing all over the world due to varroa mites, colony collapse and other stresses, Lynch said that the islands of Maui and Kauai, which do not have the mites, have some of the healthiest hives in the United States. He said between 30 to 50 percent of all queen bees exported to Mainland farms each year come from the two islands. He said that without bees to pollinate crops, agriculture would face disaster. “There’s no machine or technology that can do what bees do,” he said. Lynch said that he has been visiting area hotels asking them to hold off on trimming palm trees until after they bloom. He said that, due to the ongoing drought, the bees have been stressed into expanding their searches for pollen, and palm flowers are a favorite food source.