Swarming bees force the closure of Iolani Palace as efforts to remove them continue

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Saturday marks the third day Iolani Palace is closed due to aggressive bees. Four beehives were found on the palace after several people were attacked by a swarms of bees Thursday afternoon.

Two of the four beehives have already been dealt with. But beekeeper Jeremyah Wubben, who is also a manager at Absolute Termite & Pest Control, said the last two nests are deep in the cracks.

“The way that the palace has been constructed there are a lot of hollow voids. What happens is the bees get inside the voids. It’s kind of what bees naturally do. They get inside logs, trees and they make their nest. A lot of times that requires getting an access point so you can physically get at the bees in some way. Unfortunately, because it’s the palace, you can’t just cut into it and remove the bees that way,” Wubben explained.

They need to take extra precautions because of the historical significance of the palace.

“We have to wear shoe guards to make sure we’re not damaging any of the historical rugs. And also for sealing up to prevent the bees from coming back we have to make sure the material we’re using will come off,” Wubben said.

What makes it even more difficult is the nests are in crevices at the top of the structure.

“It’s quite high. It’s going to be on the very top of the second floor and the other lift is too short, it needs to be a lot taller about 75 feet.”

They are planning to bring in taller lift to reach the area.

Coordination between the department of agriculture, department of land and natural resources and handling Iolani Palace with care due to its historical significance, are key in taking care of the bees.

They are also working on a solution to prevent this from happening again.

“Put out a hive lewer boxes to attract bees that would be swarming around. Instead of going into the palace, they would go into what’s being called a nook. It’s pre-scented with a queen pheromone. What that does is it will bring the bees into a box–an already established hive. When the bees go into that hive what we can do is just close it off very easily… and take the bees away,” Wubben explained.

But how could four hives so large have gone unnoticed in the first place?

Wubben said since they were out of the way and hadn’t caused any trouble that’s likely why they hadn’t been a problem until the incident.

Konrad Scicuna and his family arrived in Honolulu from Malta. France and had hoped to tour Iolani Palace. They were instead left to peer into the property through the tall, green, locked palace gates.

“Unfortunately, its closed. But as it goes they told us it was closed because of bees, for safety reasons we understand that as tourists,” Scicuna said.

A palace spokesperson said that the only event they had to cancel was a weekly quilting class Saturday morning.

All of the tours that were scheduled have been rescheduled or have been fully refunded.

Iolani Palace is losing roughly $15,000 in revenue every day that they’re closed.

The palace spokesperson added that the good news is they were already scheduled to be closed Sunday.

Wubben said the goal is to have all of the hives removed by Monday.

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