Beekeeping Dog in 'Astronaut' Suit Detects Infected Hives by Smell

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©. Josh Kennett

Bzzz bzzz woof woof

Bees are extremely important. We've been writing about for years about the various threats that they face (Margaret has a great timeline of bee articles between 2005 and 2013), and about various ways to protect them. But this story from Australia might be the most original yet, or at the very least the cutest.

In the photo above is Bazz, a black labrador that beekeeper Josh Kennett has trained to detect by smell a serious bee disease called American foulbrood. The Paenibacillus larvae caused by the infection are usually only visible under high-magnification microscope, but thanks to Bazz, that's not necessary.

Beekeeping dog

© Josh Kennett

Microscope analysis might not be needed thanks to Bazz's nose, but the dog still had to be protected from bee attack to get close enough to sniff out the hives. That's why Kennett built this protective suit that makes Bazz look a big like a canine astronaut.

It's particularly important to detect American foulbrood infections early because there is no cure (yet), so the only thing that can be done is quarantining the infected colonies to keep the disease from spreading.


wikimedia / Shawn Caza/CC BY-SA 3.0

You can listen to a radio interview with Mr. Kennett here about his bees and dog.

Via ABC Australia