Pollen helping keep track of invasive species

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Pollen knocked off the knees of western honey bees could shape New Zealand’s next line of defence against unwanted pest plants.

A Dunedin study of the pollen bees were bringing back to hives in 21 city properties last year showed that it could be done, the study’s principal investigator said.

Scion entomology research leader Andrew Cridge, now based in Rotorua, was working as a research fellow at the University of Otago when the study began investigating the "slightly crazy idea" that if there was a new or invasive plant species in an area, honey bees could find it.

One of the big expenses in management of biosecurity incursions was the time it took for inspectors to go out and look for unwanted species, Dr Cridge said.

Dunedin beekeeper @Otto completed the groundwork on the Dunedin study collecting the pollen in traps.

Dr Hyink said he was pleased to see native broadleaves and a native fuchsia in the pollen mix.