Food security depends heavily on an abundance of natural pollinators, including honey bees! Beekeeping is a growing hobby and business in Guam. Learn about how beekeeping started on Guam and the organization and farmers who play a vital role in promoting and educating the community about our local honeybees.
On May 22, 2021, Guåhan Sustainable Culture hosted another successful online workshop for individuals looking to start their own hives in their backyards. With the help of Micah Griffith from Hafa Adai Honey, GSC welcomed 37 people to the online class which covered honey bee biology, management, managing diseases and pests and so much more. Chris Rosario, President of the Guam Beekeepers Association, Chris Rosario, also shared with the class and invited new beekeepers to join the association.
The class was free to attend and made possible thanks to the support from Humanitites Guåhan and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
By: Isaiah Aguon for Guåhan Sustainable Culture
What first started as a hobby, ended up becoming a business venture for Micah Griffith, owner of Hafa Adai Honey.
Griffith, 39, got into beekeeping in 2018 because of an individual who kept encouraging him to start importing US Grade ‘A’ honey. At first, he wasn’t interested in producing anything dealing with food because it has a short shelf life. Through research, Griffith took her up on the offer, later discovering that honey doesn’t have a short shelf life, it can last forever.
“I started looking into it more, I began educating myself about bees, and the whole process was very fascinating,” Griffith told Guåhan Sustainable Culture. “So I decided to start and got me a small hive just as a hobby. And then one thing led to another, after that, I started getting many more hives and was able to start producing locally made honey.”
Unlike the fishermen’s association and even the surfers association, you’re gonna find some in the group quite similar in age, according to Griffith. But Guam’s beekeeping community is extremely diverse.
“We have people from all different ages, and backgrounds,” he said. “Most of us in the association do beekeeping as a side thing and or as a hobby. We just have a large variety of people.”
At the inception of the hobby, Griffith thought it was something he wasn’t going to enjoy because he is not fond of insects. He discovered the excitement of it all while working with bees.
“They’re just so fascinating which is why I enjoy the company of bees,” he said.
In an interview with GSC, Griffith shared the highlights of beekeeping.
“When you are working with the bees your kind of forced to put away your phone and I don’t take any calls, I’m not even checking my Instagram or anything like that, and you’re just isolated from that so that is nice to be able to have some time and you are just there with the bees and your just looking in on how you can help them,” he said. “You are engaging a lot of your senses, making sure the hive is healthy, and you’re listening to a lot of things as well so that’s why I enjoy keeping the bees.”
Beekeeping did not only become an extra source of income but also became a family affair.
“I have wrangled my wife into the hobby as well, oftentimes, especially when I am doing a harvest it can take an entire day so my wife comes down to lend a hand,” Griffith said. “Additionally our friends are interested in beekeeping. I’ve had some who started beekeeping. We were able to give them some bees.”
Griffith said, “bees have been on Guam since 1907, which were brought in to help with pollination.” He stated, “bees are important because that is where the food comes from. Additionally, bees do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to pollinating the plants.”
When Griffith first joined the beekeepers association with current President Chris Rosario, there were only a dozen members. In the last year or two, now that number has nearly doubled, according to Griffith.
“There have always been beekeepers on the island,” he said. “So there are quite a few beekeepers here now.”
Griffith shared that raising awareness and education is what would make beekeeping’s future brighter here in Guam.
“First off education. Until now, most people don’t know there are bees on the island and don’t know that honey is being made on Guam,” he said. “We’re on an island where almost everything is imported. But honey is something we have here made locally. That’s something that we would be good to educate people on.”
“But also when people do find bees a lot of the time the first reaction is to get rid of them,” he said. “I wish there was more that if they do see a beehive they don’t need to try to kill them. You should contact your local beekeeper and we will make sure that they are taken care of.”
Yogurt, tea, and ice cream are some ways you can incorporate honey into your diet. Also, pollen can be used in salads, according to Griffith.
For more information about Hafa Adai Honey, follow them on their social media pages @HafaAdaiHoney.