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Keeping hives alive

Alan Wong's adoption program aims to sustain food production and train future beekeepers

By Joan Namkoong

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:25 p.m. HST, Aug 05, 2011


Hilo » Want to help Hawaii be more sustainable in food production? Yes, you already support local farmers by buying their fruits, vegetables and flowers at farmers markets and supermarkets. And yes, you drink locally grown coffee, seek out island grown beef, pork, veal, eggs and fish and patronize restaurants that use locally grown products.

Adopt-a-Beehive with Alan Wong

Worker, drone and queen bees, donations of $300, $500 and $1,000, respectively, support the University of Hawaii at Hilo Beekeeping Program. Call the UH-Hilo Office of Development at 808-933-1945.

Farmers Series Dinner

Featuring honey from Alan Wong’s beehives and Kauai Shrimp.
>> Where: Alan Wong’s Restaurant, 1857 S. King St.
>> When: Aug. 3; seatings from 5 to 10 p.m.
>> Price: $80 prix fixe menu, $110 with wine pairings
>> Call: 949-2526
>> Guests: Bee expert Lorna Tsutsumi of University of Hawaii at Hilo and Nancy Kanna of Sunrise Capital, producers of Kauai Shrimp

But here's a tangible, long-term way to support food production in Hawaii: Adopt a beehive.

That's the message from Chef Alan Wong, who launched the Adopt-a-Beehive program Saturday in partnership with the College of Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resource Management at University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Adopt-a-Beehive with Alan Wong and you support the research and development of healthy beehive practices in Hawaii, including education for professional and hobbyist beekeepers. For a donation, you will have your own personal beehive, looked after by a UH-Hilo beekeeping student who will report on the hive's activity over the course of a year.

The hive could be at UH-Hilo's Panaewa agricultural farm or at any farm within the state. And you'll get some honey and honey products and the opportunity to participate in agriculture-related activities.

UH-Hilo is the only campus in Hawaii involved in research and education on honeybees. Lorna Tsutsumi, professor of entomology, teaches two classes on the ins and outs of beekeeping, honey production and bee products.

More importantly, she addresses the fact that more than 80 percent of our food supply is dependent — directly or indirectly — on bees. Honeybees are not just about the sweet nectar that they produce for our consumption. Bees provide an even more essential service — the pollination of a variety of food crops that ensures abundant food production.

Since 2007, the varroa mite has invaded island bee populations, which were virtually disease- and pest-free for more than 150 years. Hive beetles are also decimating bee populations, and, like honeybee populations around the world, Hawaii's bee colonies are in danger of collapsing and disappearing.

If that should happen, coffee and macadamia nut production would diminish, melons, citrus and other fruit would not flourish, zucchini, eggplant and other vegetable crops would not grow well, and the list goes on.

Sustaining beehives is critical to food production, and that's what caught Wong's attention. He had been trying to establish an adopt-a-hive program in Hawaii ever since he heard about this type of program on the mainland. Tsutsumi was an old friend, and reconnecting with her added an educational element to promote sustainability.

The program supports Tsutsumi's entomology classes at UH-Hilo, funding equipment and tools needed to continue her practical application of beekeeping to a tropical environment. During a time of limited resources, the program is aimed toward ensuring that future beekeepers are trained.

"I want to invest in the next generation," Wong said. "We need to make decisions today so that our grandchildren's children enjoy what we have today."

Honey has already garnered more attention in Wong's restaurants' pantries. Orange, guava or strawberry honey is now served with breakfast items at the Pineapple Room instead of maple syrup. And in August, honey will be a featured ingredient in his Farmer Series Dinner.

A one-acre tract at UH-Hilo's Panaewa agriculture farm has been planted with a variety of foliage including ohia lehua, lantana, keawe, citrus, Surinam cherry, crotons, fruits and vegetables.

Wong's personal beehive overlooks the area, a beacon for bees and their products — and the start of a program that will hopefully sustain beekeeping in Hawaii.

JOAN’S HONEY GRANOLA

2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup dried fruit such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries

1/2 cup nuts such as macadamia, walnuts, almonds

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In medium bowl, mix together oatmeal, cinnamon and salt. In small saucepan, heat butter and honey together until butter melts. Pour honey mixture over oatmeal and mix well.

Transfer mixture to baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

When granola is golden brown, remove from oven and mix in dried fruit and nuts. Cool and store in airtight container. Makes about 4 cups.

Approximate nutritional information, per 1/2-cup serving (with mixed nuts and fruit): 270 calories, 10 g fat, 2.5 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 100 mg sodium, 44 g carbohydrate, 4 g fiber, 23 g sugar, 5 g protein

ALAN WONG’S HONEY GINGER SUMMER SPRITZER

1-1/4 ounces honey

2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger root

3 ounces ginger ale

1-1/4 ounces Maui Gold Rum

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Slice of lime

Place honey, ginger, ginger ale, rum and lime juice in stainless-steel drink mixing glass; muddle well. Strain into a 15-ounce glass and fill with ice cubes. Add more ginger ale if needed. Stir with bar spoon and garnish with slice of fresh lime.

For a nonalcoholic version, omit rum and use 6 ounces ginger ale. Makes 1 drink.

Approximate nutritional information, with alcohol: 250 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, 10 mg sodium, 39 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 37 g sugar, no protein

Approximate nutritional information, without alcohol: 170 calories, no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol, 20 mg sodium, 47 g carbohydrate, no fiber, 45 g sugar, no protein

———

Nutritional analysis by Joannie Dobbs, Ph.D., C.N.S.






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