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Delicious, sweet honey is not the only thing that honey bees help us with. Honey bees are a vital part of our food production system, responsible for pollinating a wide range of crops – from our favourite fruits and vegetables, to plants eaten by livestock.

Keeping honey bees healthy is a full-time job for beekeepers – whether it’s a hobby hive in the back yard or a commercial beekeeping business with thousands of hives moving around the country. Beekeepers need to be sure their colonies have access to enough of the right food, are kept free from pest and disease, and don’t have a negative impact on the natural environment, much the same as any farmer managing animals.

Our scientists know about honey bees and how to keep them healthy, happy, and productive. We’re looking at ways to manage pests and diseases and how to structure a colony to make sure it can perform the tasks required of it. We’re also looking at the impact honey bee colonies have on the natural environment, and how best to ensure honey bee activities don’t interfere with Aotearoa’s native flora and fauna.

We aren’t only working to improve honey bee health and productivity, scientists across Plant and Food research support the apiculture industry by investigating how the plants available for honey bee foraging impact on honey composition and the science behind the health benefits associated with different types of honey.

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