Dr. Jason Graham’s Project Update:

Hawaii Veterans Beekeeping Program (HAVE-BEE PROJECT) aims to help support veterans and beekeeping on Oahu and the Big Island in Hawaii by training and teaching veterans on honey bee biology, colony management, queen rearing, apiary economics and other valuable skills.

Ideally this would become a model to spread veteran beekeeping programs nationwide to assist veterans and families of veterans through bees. We see Beekeeping as a pathway to economic stability, closeness with nature for post-traumatic stress support, reintegration into civilian life with fellow service members, continued education, career training, social networking and a fascinating hobby that supports agriculture and natural ecosystems.

HAVE-BEES project will train veterans by providing all the necessary materials (bee hives, colonies, and all the beekeeping equipment such as veils, smokers, hive toots, foundations, honey extractors and all the medicines for the diseases and parasites) for each participant veteran. Veterans living on Oahu and Hawaii will be given an introduction to keeping bees the first year, queen rearing during the second year, instrumental insemination, apiary economics and other advanced topics on the third year.

All veterans can become Master Beekeepers and Queen Breeders during the project or just enjoy the program as much as they feel comfortable participating. They will have the opportunity to build a sustainable beekeeping business and produce honey, pollen, propolis, royal jelly, queen bees and produce package bees and/or nucleus colonies, delve into bee research or share beekeeping lessons in their local community as educators.

First Year: Learn beekeeping basics – bee biology, equipment, hive building, honey extraction, pollen harvesting, making splits and more.

Second Year: Learn advanced beekeeping techniques, graft queens, rear queens, manage colonies strategically to satisfy personal goals and more.

Third Year: Learn mastery level beekeeping techniques, artificial insemination of queens, apiary management, commercial production and more.

Master Beekeeping Program Leaders:
Dr. Osman Kaftanoglu osman.kaftanoglu@asu.edu
Dr. Alicia D. Wills heartybees@gmail.com
Dr. Jason Graham jrgraham@hawaii.edu
Commander Donovan A. Lazarus donovan@amvets-hawaii.org

We have had monthly workshops on Oahu and we are scheduled to continue through Jan. Events are posted on the online resources hub-


We also share educational materials, local events, and host a discussion forum here and on Facebook-


We hope to grow into a thriving online community that can sustainably build and steer the program to support Beekeeping, veterans, first responders, education and agriculture locally. All of which we believe are the unsung heroes which truly support our local communities.

2018 Hawaii Master Beekeeper Program Monthly Calendar of Workshops


Project narrative Introduction:

There are over 19 million veterans in the US and most of them live in rural areas with limited resources and income. There are 113,385 veterans in Hawaii and 52,139 of the Hawaiian veterans are between the ages of 20 and 59 which is suitable for beekeeping. Hawaiian veterans have limited opportunities to increase their income, especially in the rural areas. Hawaii has an exceptional climate and ecology for beekeeping with suitable climate, abundance of flowering plants year around being isolated from the mainland. We propose to increase the income of Hawaiian veterans through beekeeping.

Honey bees are social insects and live in the societies called colonies. A colony consists of one queen bee, 30,000-60,000 worker bees and several thousand drones. The queen bee is the mother of all the bees in the hive. They develop in 16 days, become sexually mature in 7-10 days, takes a mating flight and mates with 10-15 drones during the mating flights. If the queen cannot mate with enough drones she can take another mating flight on the following day. Mated queens deposit 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 spermatozoa in the spermatheca and use them throughout her life span. After mating the queen’s physiology changes, her ovaries develop and she starts oviposition within 3-4 days after mating. A good quality queen lays between 1,500-2,000 eggs per day. They can live up to 2-3 years but they are requeened every year or every other year by the beekeepers. Queen is very important for the performance of the colonies. The genotype of the queen and the drones that she mates with, age and the quality of the queens affect the performance, behavior, survival, and the productivity of the colonies. Therefore queen rearing and supply of good quality queens are very important for the beekeeping operations.

There are over 2.62 million colonies in the US and if they are re-queened every year we need to rear over 2 million queens every year. However queen production does not fulfill the demand and there is always a need for good quality queen bees every year. Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to rear queens throughout the year. It has a potential to sell queens to the mainland, Canada and Middle-Eastern countries. There is a huge demand for queen bees in February and March in the Middle East and Arabic countries and they can not get queens when they need them. HAVE BEES Project will teach beekeeping on the first year, queen rearing on the second year and and instrumental insemination of queen bees to the participating veterans on the third year so they can rear good quality queens, and sell them to the mainland and other countries.

AMVETS Hawaii will organize cooperation among the veterans and possibly market honey, pollen, queen bees and other value added bee products produced by the Hawaiian veterans.

Besides increasing the number of colonies, honey, pollen and queen bee productions, bees will help the ecosystem and pollination of the agricultural crops in Hawaii. Honey bees (Apis mellifera) is the most common and major pollinator of cultivated crops. The value of crops in the United States pollinated by honey bees exceeds $12 billion and is trending upwards (Calderone 2012). However, there is substantial evidence that honey bees and other wild pollinators are declining in Europe and the Americas (Goulson et al. 2015) since the 1950’s. Managed honey bee colonies went down to 2.62 million colonies from 6 million colonies in the 50’s. Honey bees are facing serious stressors for the survival. Heavy uses of pesticides, widespread of diseases and parasites, malnutrition, urbanization, deforestation, global warming and other stressors are affecting the survival and productivity of the honey bee colonies. Public awareness on the value and importance of bees as pollinators will reduce the use of pesticides especially in urban areas will increase the fitness and survival of the colonies. Through the HAVE-BEES Project a master beekeeping program (BEE_AWARE) will help understanding the value and importance of bees in Hawaii. Several outreach activities will be conducted at selected high schools and communities during the project to increase the public awareness.

Even though Hawaii is one of the best places for beekeeping and queen rearing in the world, it has several problems that may affect the development of beekeeping. The most constrain is the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida). It can be a big problem especially in the small colonies and queen rearing boxes or the nucs. A special insulated hives and nucs will be used to trap the small hive beetles. Every hive will have the small hive beetle barriers to prevent the beetles going up to the frames after they enter the hives through the entrance. The hives also have pollen traps to collect pollen and prevent the entrance of the small hive beetles through the pollen traps. Entrance reducers will also help reducing the entrance facilitating the bees to defend the hive against to small hive beetles and other intruders. All the participants of the project will learn honey bee biology, practical beekeeping and honey bee management (installing the package bees, identifying queen, workers and drones, catching and handling queens, marking and clipping the wings of the queens, assessing the quality of queens, re-queening colonies, assembling frames and foundations, dividing and uniting colonies, feeding colonies, adding supers, removing supers and harvesting honey, uncapping honey combs, extracting honey, bottling and marketing honey and other bee products, diagnosis and control of honey bee diseases and parasites such as American foulbrood, European foulbrood, sacbrood and chalkbrood, nosema, deformed wing virus disease, acute and chronic bee paralysis, Varroa mite and small hive beetle).

The participants will learn queen rearing, evaluating and selection of the breeder colonies, preparing starter, finisher and colonies and queen banks, grafting larvae, making mating nucs, marking and caging the mated queens, preparing queen candy for the queens, and methods to rear good quality queens in the second year.

They will learn instrumental insemination of queen bees and practice, setting up and calibrating stereo microscopes and Schley instrumental insemination device, preparing semen extenders, drone production, collecting drones from the entrance, semen collection, preparing queens for the insemination, adjusting CO2 levels, insemination, tagging and clipping the wings of inseminated queens, care of the queens after insemination, cleaning and maintenance of insemination device, evaluating the instrumentally inseminated queens, counting the number of spermatozoa in the spermathecal in the third year.

II. Rationale and Significance

The veterans’ population is aging as the US population. It is harder to get any job in aging societies and/or rural areas where job opportunities are limited. Agriculture is one of the most common areas of employment in rural areas. However it requires land, heavy equipment and labor for the crop production and shelter, and constant food supply for the animal production. However beekeeping does not require to own a land, heavy equipment and/or there is no need to feed the colonies. They collect nectar and pollen for nutritional requirements and for the survival of the colonies. They behave like programmed robots and forage for nectar and pollen as long as they are available. The initial cost of the starting beekeeping enterprise is much cheaper, compared to establishing other agricultural business. It can be done almost everywhere and it is a very good income generating business. After the initial investment cost the operation cost is minimal.

There are several value added products that contribute substantial income to beekeepers from the beekeeping activities. Honey is the most common and the major income for the beekeepers. Hawaii has an excellent climate and floral diversity for successful beekeeping. The number of colonies, total honey production and honey yields have increased from 2015 to 2016. Number of honey bee colonies, total honey production and honey yield per coloni increased from 14,000 to 16,000 colonies; total honey production from 1,428,000 tons to 1,808,000 tons; and honey yield from 102 lbs./hive to 113 lbs./hive respectively. Hawaii is the number one state in terms of honey yield being over 113 lbs. per colony and honey production was up 26.6% compared to 2015. The average honey yield per colony in the US is 58.3 lbs. per colony and being 27 lbs. in NJ, 36 lbs. in CA, 50 lbs. in FL, 79 lbs. in OH, and 85 lbs. in MS. The average wholesale honey price in Hawaii was $2.31 per lbs. which is little above the national US honey price $2,075 per lbs in 2916. Wholesale honey price is lowest in MN which is $1.64 per lbs. and the highest in NJ being $6.69 per lbs. (USDA-NASS Honey Report, 2017). The retail honey prices run between $6.00 and $15.00 per lbs. in Hawaii so the local farmers sell their honey above $10.00 per lbs.

The United States honey production in 2016 totaled 161.9 million pounds, up three percent from 2015. Number of colonies totaled 2.78 million in 2016, up four percent from 2015. Honey production in Hawaii totaled 1.8 million pounds in 2016 and up 26.6 percent from 2015. All these statistical data show that Hawaii has a great beekeeping potential and there is a There is a growing interest in beekeeping and honey production in Hawaii in recent years. Hawaiian veterans have also great interest in beekeeping and eager to learn and start beekeeping. This model project can also be applied in other states, among the veterans, minorities, refugees, women or Native Americans.

It will help to increase of income of the participating veterans in Hawaii. It will generate income on the first year of the project. Each veteran will make $8,400 in the first year, $28,250 in the second year, $32,350 in the third year and $40,550 in the subsequent years. They also have the opportunity of increasing the colony numbers and their income by using USDA microloans.

This project will generate a total of $168,000 in the first year, $565,000 in the second year and 647,000 in the third year alone. There will be over $3 million gross income during the 5 year period when the project is supported.

We estimate that each veteran beekeeper will produce 40 lbs. honey in the first year, 50 lbs. in the second year, 60 lbs. in the third year and 80 lbs. in the subsequent years. They can sell their honey in the farmers market for $ 8/lbs. The beekeepers will make splits and increase the number of colonies starting from the second year. Each 5 frame colonies will sell around $250 and they can make 15 splits colonies every year.

Each hive will have built in pollen trap so the veteran beekeepers can collect pollen during main pollen flow. They will collect 200 lbs. in the first year and 400 lbs. in the subsequent years. They can sell pollen for $10/lbs. and increase their income.

The veteran beekeepers will learn queen rearing in the second year and rear 500 queens in the second year, 600 queens in the third year and 800 queens in the subsequent years. Each queen is $25 and they will make $12,500 in the second year, $18,000 in the third year, and $20,000 in the following years and increase their income substantially.

Total yearly gross income of 20 veterans will be $168,000 in the first year, $565,000 in the second year $647,000 in the third year, $811,000 in the fourth and fifth years. This project will generate over $3million gross revenue in 5 years.

All the veteran beekeepers will also learn bee breeding and instrumental insemination of queen bees besides beekeeping and bee management. When they learn instrumental insemination they can sell breeder queens in a much higher price and generate more income. The project will impact the beekeeping activities in the Hawaiian Islands. There will be online “Master Beekeeping” courses and outreach courses to teach the value and importance of bees for agricultural and ecology. Hawaiian veterans will gain new expertise, have expanded social circle, increased revenue, new hobby, learning experience, source of honey, and outdoor activities. There will be more public awareness on the conservation of pollinators and it will reduce the use of pesticides in rural and urban areas.

Project Budget and Justification

Personnel: $101,600/year 1, $101,600/ year 2, and $101,600/ year 3 ($304,800 total)

Project Director: Dr. Osman Kaftanoglu is an apiculturist, with 41 years of experience working on honey bee management, queen rearing, honey bee breeding, honey bee pathology and bee behavior. He will direct the project, and give outreach courses on beekeeping, queen rearing and instrumental insemination of queen bees in two islands. He will be retired as of July, 1st, 2018 so he will use 50% of his time on the project every year. He will spend at least 90 days in Hawaii to teach beekeeping, queen rearing, instrumental insemination and managing the project. He will work 5 days a week, and 6 hours/day in each visit and his hourly rate is $100.

Total charge: 60 days x 6 hours x $100/hr. x 3 years = $108,000

Co-Director: Dr. Jason Graham is an expert in beekeeping, pollination and pollinator conservation. He will prepare online courses to provide online help and inspect the beekeepers hives. Funds are requested $26,700 per year x 3 years = $ 80,100 total.

Jasmin Joy will be assisting Dr. Graham as a technician. Funds are requested for a half time job during the project $5000 per year x 3 years = $15,000 total.

Donovan Lazarus, the commander of AMVET Hawaii. He will contribute to the project by reaching the veterans in Hawaii, interviewing the candidates and managing the project. He will spend 4 hours per week for 3 years for the evaluations and management of the project.

4 hrs/week x 52 weeks x $50/hr. x 3 years = $31,200 total

Alicia Wills will help the veterans to maintain the colonies when needed or when the project director and co-director are not available. Funds are requested for a half time job during the project for 3 years.

$25,200 per year x 3 years = $75,600 total

Travel: $38,500/ year 1, $40,500/ year 2, and $40,500/ year 3 ($119,500 total)

Domestic and International Travel: Project director will visit the beekeepers every 2 months and stay 2 weeks in each trip. Funds are requested for each trip for 3 years.

6 trips/year x $1000 per trip x 3 years = $18,000 total

Accommodation: Project director will stay in a hotel and funds are requested for accommodation for 3 years.

6 trips/year x 15 days/trip x $200/day x 3 years = $54,000 total

Car rental: Project director will rent a car while staying in Hawaii and funds are requested for rental cars 90 days/year x 3 years x $50 per day = $13,500

Gasoline: $6,000/ year1, $6,000/year 2, and $6,000/year 3 ($18,000 total)

Gasoline will be bought for the rental cars and outreach activities.

Attending national and international conferences: $4,000/ year 1, $6,000/ year 2 and $6,000/ year

3($16,000 total)

The project members will go to the national beekeeping conferences like American Beekeeping Conference, American Honey Producers Conference and/or international conferences Apimondia and Asian Apicultural Association Conference. First year 2, the second 3 and the 3rd year 3 project members will go national and international beekeeping conferences. Each conference will cost $2,000 per person per trip including airfare, lodging and registration fees.

Materials and Supplies: $272,000 in year 1, $75,000/ year 2 and $81,000 /year 3 ($428,000 total)

Honey Bees: $100,000/year in year 1 ($100,000 total)

We will give 20 colonies for each successful participant to start beekeeping activities. Honey bee colonies will be bought in the first year.

20 Veterans x 20 colonies / veteran x $250 per colony = $100,000

Honey bee hives: $100,000/year in year 1 ($100,000 total)

We will give 20 bee hives for each successful participant (400 bee hives total) Honey bee hives will be bought and distributed to the veterans in the first year. All the hives will have 2 brood chambers, built in pollen traps to collect pollen from the hives, entrance reducer to prevent robbing, a queen excluder, Varroa tray for monitoring Varroa destructor parasitic mite and easy cleaning the bottom board, a small hive beetle barrier to reduce the small hive beetle infestation, a division board for uniting colonies or making splits, top feeder, and 20 frames.

Queen rearing nucs: $48,000/ in year 2

20 veterans x 20 nucs/veteran x $120 / nuc = $ 48,000

A total of 400 nucs will be purchased for queen rearing. Each nuc is divided into 2 sections with a division board so 2 queens can be reared from each nuc every 2 weeks. Each veteran will be able to rear 500-800 queens in a year.

(20 nucs/veteran x2 divisions/nuc x 2 queens/month x10 months x80% mating success= 800 queens/year)

Instrumental insemination apparatus: $70,000/in year 3

Instrumental insemination course will be given to the veterans on the third year. Successful veterans will receive a set of instrumental insemination apparatus. Each instrumental insemination set will include: 1 instrumental insemination apparatus, 1 stereo zoom microscope, 1 LED cold light source, 1 CO2 cylinder. will be purchased and given to the veterans who successfully complete the course and get a certificate.

Beekeeping starting kits: $2,000 per year ($6,000 total)

20 veteran beekeepers will receive a beekeeping starting kit every year. The kit includes 1 bee suit or bee jacket, 1 pair of gloves, 1 hive tool, 1 bee brush, 1 frame grabber, 10 larva grafting tools, 1 queen marking kit, 1 honey scrapper.

Beeswax foundations: $16,000 /year 1 and $16,000/ year 2 ($32,000 total)

Veteran beekeepers should place beeswax or plastic foundations for comb building. Each beekeeper will receive 20 foundations for each hive for the first 2 years.

20 veterans x 20 hives x 20 foundations x $2 per foundation x 2 years= $32,000 total

Beeswax foundation press: $5,000/ year 1

There is no beeswax foundation mill in Hawaii. Beekeepers cannot easily buy beeswax foundation in the Hawaiian Islands. They can produce their wax foundations by melting the beeswax capping and old beeswax combs. 10 Beeswax foundation press’ will be purchased and made available for veterans to use at participating locations on Oahu and the Big Island of Hawaii.

Electric honey extractor: $35,000 /year 1

Every beekeeper needs honey extractor for harvesting honey from the combs. Funds are needed to buy honey extractors for each veteran beekeeper.

Medications for Varroa and bee diseases: $3,000/year 1, $3,000/year 2 and $3,000/year 3 ($9,000 total)

Honey bees have several bee diseases and parasites. They need to be controlled properly. Funds are needed to buy the medicines for the control of the varroa mite and bee diseases.

Mailing Address:
PO Box 2865
Ewa Beach, Hawaii (USA) 96706
E-mail: admin@amvets-hawaii.org
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AMVETS Hawaii is a 501(c)(3), is a public, non-profit, Veterans Service Organization (VSO).

Over 95% of all donations received will directly fund our ROTC/JROTC Medals and Awards program, Hawaii Public Schools Essay Contests, the preservations of Ewa Battlefield, and other Memorials and Hawaii Historic sites.  And will also help fund our annual commemoration ceremonies: Ewa Battlefield Pearl Harbor Commemoration, Battle of Midway Commemoration, Veteran’s Day Commemoration ceremony, and other events.

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AMVETS Charities, Inc. participates in the Combined Federal Campaign through the Military, Veterans and Patriotic Services Organizations of America federation. Our Combined Federal number is of the 50,000 charities that participate in the CFC, only about 1500 – the members of Independent Charities of America and Local Independent Charities of America – will have the opportunity to display the “Best In America” seal of approval. AMVETS Charities, Inc. is proud to be one of those chosen few. This seal of approval is a service mark of Independent Charities of America and is used under license. AMVETS NSF is responsible for the content of any materials in which the Service Mark is used.

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Ewa Beach, Hawaii (USA) 96706
Main Office: 808-382-6835
E-mail: admin@amvets-hawaii.org
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