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Bee-hind the Scenes: Protecting the Environment, Saving the Bees

19 May 2023

From Anna Marie G. General, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii - What do you do with 500,000 bees? After Kupono Solar Project personnel discovered a wild beehive on Feb. 13 while working on a berm at the construction site of the future solar panels at the West Loch Annex on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, they focused on relocating the bees to a local bee farm with a view toward protecting the environment.
“A decision was made to not exterminate the bees, which is a standard practice along many construction companies, but rather save the bees and relocate them,” said Alex Volobuev, project manager for Ameresco, a solar project contractor working in partnership with the U.S. Navy.

Ameresco contacted a professional beekeeper who came out the same day and brought a new beehive to provide a new home for the bees at a bee farm located on the North Shore of Oahu. The beekeeper was able to collect 97% of the bees, including the queen bee, estimating a total of 500,000 bees.

“We’re technically just moving the bees from the pile of rocks or underneath the trailer to a bee box and taking them to a ‘Bee’fugee,” said Stanislav Abdullin, owner and beekeeper for HI Honey Farms. “That’s what we call a separate location where we treat them and take care of them, making sure they don’t have any disease so they don’t contaminate the main apiary.”

“We are raising them until they’re ready to give us some wonderful honey,” Abdullin added.

According to Volobuev, bee relocation helps the community and protects the environment by preserving honeybee populations for pollination, maintaining biodiversity, protecting native bee species, enhancing food production while reducing pesticide use, ensuring public safety by removing hives from inconvenient areas, and providing educational opportunities for the community.

“Protecting bees brings numerous advantages for our communities and the environment,” said Volobuev. “Saving bees yields benefits like improved crop production, sustainable agriculture, wildlife habitat preservation, native bee conservation, and scientific progress. Protecting bees is vital for a healthier environment.”

While continuing to protect our environment, the Kupono Solar project would connect to Hawaiian Electric Company’s Oahu grid for 20 years for use by the public and the U.S. Navy. The project is proposed for development by Ameresco Inc. and Bright Canyon Energy Corporation, which would construct, own and operate 42 megawatts of renewable energy.

When complete, the project’s renewable energy will supply power to Oahu’s local grid, powering 10,000 homes, reducing more than 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually from Hawaii’s environment – equivalent to offsetting carbon dioxide emissions from 12,000 cars every year.

In addition to saving the bees on Oahu, the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) on Barking Sands, Kauai, one of Navy Region Hawaii’s installations, also has a program to help preserve the bees which is fully maintained and operated by volunteers.

The plants found on the installation are all pollinated by the bees that live on the base and their hives come from the pollination of kiawe where fresh honey is produced. Although fresh honey is produced and able to take home in jars, the main intent of the program is not profit, it’s preservation.

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