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Going in to bat for the bees

23 Jun 2016

For almost thirty years Dr Mark Goodwin has been protecting the kingdoms of queens and the health of their loyal subjects, often during times of foreign invasion. But while the realms he has dedicated his career to are small, their influence on the world is significant.

Dr Goodwin is a scientist at Plant & Food Research specialising in honey bee and hive health, and the pollination services these colonies provide.

His research has put him at the forefront of the fight against pests and diseases such as Varroa, American foulbrood and, most recently, Nosema ceranae. He was recognised this week with the inaugural Apiculture New Zealand Peter Molan Award.

The award and associated research grant recognises outstanding contribution to science which advances the apiculture industry, and was presented to Dr Goodwin at the recent Apiculture New Zealand Conference.

Honey bees play an important role in the pollination of many crops of significance to the New Zealand economy. The insect has been exposed to many threats, which has subsequently translated into potential challenges for successful fruit and vegetable production.

Of particular significance, Dr Goodwin was a key contributor to far-reaching work on kiwifruit pollination, and has conducted important research in honey bee toxicity. His research has often led to changes in industry practice and policy. He has also been a leading spokesperson for the apiculture industry.

“The New Zealand apiculture industry has seen many challenges over the years, but Dr Goodwin’s research has consistently played a major role in ensuring that these issues have not overwhelmed it,” says Plant & Food Research’s General Manager of Science (Sustainable Production) Dr Roger Williams. 

“It’s great to see his contribution recognised by the industry in this way.”

Dr Peter Molan, for whom the award is named in honour of, is recognised as a pioneer of New Zealand’s apiculture industry, particularly in his work on the health benefits of mānuka honey.

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