A honey of a project for school pupil

Dunedin pupil Hamish McMillan (18) has been selected as a finalist for his study on how the destruction of feral honeybee hives by varroa mites will restrict the genetic diversity of bees. Photo by Jane Dawber.
Dunedin pupil Hamish McMillan (18) has been selected as a finalist for his study on how the destruction of feral honeybee hives by varroa mites will restrict the genetic diversity of bees. Photo by Jane Dawber.
A Dunedin school pupil has tasted sweet success in reaching the final of a national competition for his science project on honeybees.

The Realise the Dream event, organised by the Royal Society of New Zealand, rewards secondary school pupils who have undertaken science or engineering projects.

John McGlashan College pupil Hamish McMillan (18) said he was "pretty chuffed" his project on the measurement of a gene, the complementary sex determiner, in 126 bees from feral hives and 114 bees from managed hives, had been selected.

The destruction of the feral bee population by varroa mites would mean less genetic diversity, he said.

And, if a queen bee bred with drone bees with a similar genetic code, some offspring would be infertile, deemed useless and killed at larvae stage by the hive, meaning fewer honey producers.

For the award, he put forward a video presentation, a 10-page project and was interviewed by a panel of eight judges, he said.

The 20 successful pupils would fly to Auckland next month for a bus journey south to Wellington and visiting scientific organisations, such as the Leigh Marine Science Centre and the Liggins Institute, he said.

For becoming a finalist, he won $500, with a chance to win the main prize of $7000 and an all-expenses-paid trip to the European Union Young Scientist Competition in Prague in September.

The winners would be announced at Government House in Wellington on December 14, he said.

Hamish was looking at medical research as a career and planned to attend the University of Otago next year.

shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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