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Fraser High School - Jodie Healy

2015 | Keeping Honey Bees Happy

SchoolFraser High School

HostThe New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research – Ruakura


Jodie is a secondary school teacher from Fraser High School in Hamilton, who has been teaching science, biology, and Earth and space science in New Zealand for the past 12 years. As a participant teacher in the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, she was hosted by Dr. David Pattemore and his team of pollination scientists at the New Zealand Institute of Plant and Food Research in Ruakura, Hamilton.

During her time at Plant and Food Research, Jodie was involved in a wide range of scientific explorations regarding the health and sustainability of honeybee colonies in New Zealand, alternative pollinator species including bumblebees and native New Zealand bees, and pollination practices for key crops in New Zealand such as kiwifruit and avocado.

She donned a protective suit and experienced a range of beekeeping practices, including the detection and treatment of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, monitoring beehives for American foulbrood disease, auditing the general health of honeybee colonies, and harvesting honey from beehives.

Jodie found that her understanding of the social structure and life cycle of honeybees increased markedly with personal observation and experience. She particularly enjoyed learning about the navigation and communication techniques of honeybees through literature research and the practical experience of training, marking, and analysing the waggle dances of a honeybee colony.

Jodie was able to experience the development of a range of scientific investigations relevant to New Zealand industry, particularly with regard to artificial pollination systems in kiwifruit orchards, the establishment of bumblebee colonies as an alternative pollinator species, and the impact of protective netting over kiwifruit orchards on the health of honeybee colonies brought in for pollination purposes.

In addition, she participated in laboratory work to process and analyse trial data regarding the pollination efficacy of both honeybees and artificial systems, as well as investigations into varroa mite populations.

Jodie is looking forward to returning to Fraser High School and sharing her experiences of theature of science with her students and colleagues. She is passionate about integrating scientific capabilities into her learning programmes so that students are supported to develop into scientifically literate citizens with the critical thinking skills necessary to address the range of scientific issues prevalent in today’s global society.

Jodie would like to sincerely thank the pollination team at Plant and Food Research for welcoming and supporting her during her placement. She would like to particularly acknowledge her host, Dr. David Pattemore, as well as Dr. Mark Goodwin, Heather McBrydie, and Sarah Cross, for freely sharing their knowledge and expertise with her as she worked alongside them.

Jodie would also like to thank the New Zealand Government for funding the Science Teaching Leadership Programme, the Royal Society of New Zealand for administering this valuable programme, and the staff at Fraser High School for supporting her participation in this experience.