Private event held at Iolani Palace grounds despite bee infestation


Iolani Palace remains closed to the public due to a bee infestation inside the walls. But that’s not preventing a private event on Monday night.

More than a hundred guests are expected at a dinner at the palace grounds. They have been told that they should be safe.

The palace gates remain closed to the general public ever since several people were stung by bees on Thursday. But crews set up a big tent in the grassy area Monday.

An awards dinner for Medtronic, a medical device company, is being held for 120 guests. Chef Chai Chaowasaree is catering the event, and he’s more concerned about the weather than the bees.

“Hopefully the rain goes away soon. I think that’s more our concern than we talked about the bees. I think the bees are fine, we don’t see anything,” he said.

The state Department of Land and Natural Resources says the company has a pre-approved special permit. A Department of Agriculture entomologist has deemed the event location is in a safe area out of the zone of bee behavior.

The owner of the company hired to remove the bees says there are are four to six hives still inside the walls. But he says it is unlikely for bees to come out and swarm at night because that’s when they sleep. The company holding the event did not want to comment. As for Chef Chai and his crew?

“For us as a caterer we go everywhere. We’ve been through worse in the storm, the power went out, and all kinds of stuff. We did it all so this is just a part of business, so it’s no big deal,” said Chaowasaree.

The workers hired to remove the bees from inside the walls will resume Tuesday. They have to bring in a lift that can go as high as 75 feet because the hives are at the top of the second floor. Because of the structure’s historical significance, an insecticide will have to be used to remove the bees.

A spokeswoman says if all goes well Tuesday, Iolani Palace will be open to the public on Wednesday.

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