One of Hawai‘i's Greats Learns First-Hand the Benefit of Subsidizing a Hive
With so many catch-all phrases buzzing around these days—like farm-to-table, support local agriculture and the like—it’s nice to spotlight those taking things to a whole ‘nother level. Chef and restaurateur Alan Wong has never made any overly self-congratulatory gestures regarding his steadfast use of locally-harvested produce (and proteins). His backing of the student-farming program at Ma‘o is just one example. Yet his latest game of connect-the-dots will undoubtedly land him yet again in the cross hairs of every blogger/editor who thinks they “discovered” his latest effort. And while we may be no exception, this time, Wong is elevating the mighty honey bee into the limelight.
Here’s the spin: In July of last year—perhaps the height of the global “What the hell is happening to the honeybees?” chatter—Wong visited Dr. Lorna Tsutsumi and her beekeeping class at University of Hawaii at Hilo (on the Big Island). It was there that Wong offered to adopt a hive, in order to lend some help to what he deemed a necessary program. For those of you bunking deep under the lava, without a healthy supply of bees, nearly none of our flowers would blossom in this land perhaps best known for it’s effervescent and colorful tropicals. Without the flowers blossoming, there would be no pollen (and other fine things too sciency for the vast majority of B on Hawaii readers), or worse, no one (or thing) to transport pollen from plant to plant. This, unfortunately, would lead to no fruit on any of our fruit trees, vegetable roots and so on. In short, we’d be up the creek. paddleless. It’s far worse than a shortage of tasty honey; the entire food chain would be disrupted.
Back to our story: Following Wong’s adoption, Tsutsumi’s students would report to Wong with their findings, as well as periodic photos of “his” hive, adding tid bits of the colony’s overall health. How lovely. Everyone feels good. End of story.
Or not. Cut to nearly a year later, and Wong returned to Hilo to find Tsutsumi’s colonies expanded to 13 hives. Apparently, others caught on to the buzz (can’t use that word enough in this article), and adopted hives.
And while this has all the trappings of a great Pixar movie, things have progressed a few steps further. The UH-Hilo office of Development, following an explosion of calls from people asking to support the bee program, has officially launched a program in partnership with the University of Hawaii Foundation. Now, any ole’ Joe can call and, reportedly, for $300, adopt their own hive, which will be cared for by the UH-Hilo beekeeping students. Not only is this furthering the education of some eager young folk, but greatly helping the flora and vegetation of Hilo, undoubtedly.
This, is something that indeed should spread. Here on O‘ahu, we’ve heard countless stories of people with small herb gardens to giant mango trees that refused to fruit, after decades of doing so. In short: We’re lacking bees.
If you’re considerably lazy, or just want to “feel” like you’re doing your part by lifting a bevvy of fork-fulls into your mouth, then you can head to Alan Wong’s on Wednesday, August 3, to sample his Hilo-harvested honey that will appear with abandon on his next Farmer Series Dinner. And, to up the ante, Wong is already teasing us with reports of another neighbor isle product that was once rumored to be in jeopardy—Kaua‘i shrimp—will also be featured.
Visit www.AlanWongs.com for reservations for his Aug. 3 Farmer Series Dinne, as well as more information on the "Adopt a Hive" program.
If you’re considerably lazy, or just want to “feel” like you’re doing your part by lifting a bevvy of fork-fulls into your mouth, then you can head to Alan Wong’s on Wednesday, August 3, to sample his Hilo-harvested honey that will appear with abandon on his next Farmer Series Dinner.