Honeybees are worth their weight in gold to New Zealand, pollinating between two and three billion dollars worth of fruit and vegetable crops each year. Overseas there are worrying reports about colony collapse disorder and disappearance of honeybees, but following a decline in beehive numbers after varroa mite was detected in New Zealand in 2000 the number of both commercial and hobby hives here is on the rise again.
Mark Goodwin (left, image A. Ballance) leads Plant and Food Research’s Apiculture and Pollination Research Team - AKA the Bee Unit - at the Ruakura Research Centre. Alison Ballance heads there to meet Mark and some bees, and find out about his research into improving pollination rates, especially in kiwifruit orchards. Mark also tells her about his concerns that varroa mites are developing resistance to the chemicals used to control them, and how New Zealand is making good progress towards eradicating American foulbrood disease
In 2009 Mark was awarded a New Zealand Science and Technology Award for his work on honeybees and crop pollination.