WA Young Achiever Awards Agriculture Award finalist Madlen Kratz sees the study of honey bees as crucial to the future of not only Australian but international agricultural industries, and wants to make a positive difference towards industry sustainability.
Madlen (26) got involved in research related to bee health in her first semester as an undergraduate. Since then she has completed her Honours thesis, and is now studying for a PhD in “The effects of nutrition on honey bee (Apis mellifera) health and colony performance”.
“My project investigates the link between honey bee nutrition and disease management, including the effects of antimicrobial food sources on the honey bee gut parasite Nosema apis that is commonly present in most colonies,” she said.
“My aim is to test whether honey bees can benefit from particular honey and pollen sources with antimicrobial properties to stop the spread or the intensity of the disease.
“This is important information to beekeepers, who would have a better understanding of the nutritional requirements of their colonies, and then can provide specific natural feeds to bees that will help in disease management, honey production and future crop pollination.”
Madlen said technology plays a big part in her experiments for processing samples and analysing data.
“I use cutting edge technology at the University of Western Australia and with the ChemCentre for honey and pollen analysis,” she said.
“Recently, I have started to work together with a specialist in the field of artificial intelligence and I am now able to analyse data much faster and with greater precision.”
With this technology-innovation connection readily available, Madlen said she has been able to build strong industry connections.
“I have contacted different industry partners, worked in the field with commercial beekeepers, who are responsible for paid pollination services at an orchard, learned about the challenges that beekeepers and farmers face, and have also had several meetings with commercial honey producers and learned about the industry,” she said.
“This has all helped me greatly in identifying common research interests and in finding out about what is important to the industry; equally as important, it has allowed me to build strong connections and collaborations that are key to making a difference in the agricultural industry.
“In building these collaborations, I am looking forward to providing knowledge and solutions that will help our agriculture and bee industries in the future.”
The achievements of Madlen and the remaining two finalists for the Agriculture Award (sponsored by WAFarmers and Rural Bank) will be acknowledged at the presentation dinner on Saturday 26 May, with the category winner to be announced that night.
One of the 10 category winners will then be selected as the Western Australian Young Achiever of the Year and will win an additional $1,000 cash, a $1,000 Bartercard account, and a state trophy.
Tickets to the presentation dinner in the Golden Ballroom at the Pan Pacific Perth are available through this website, and must be purchased by 11 May.