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Friday, July 12, 2013

Saving the bees, one dog at a time!

I'll never forget the day I got my first bee sting. I was sniffing at a beautiful blooming cone flower, when zap; the bee that was pollinating that very flower, stung me right on the nose.

My nose swelled up to the size of a golf ball, which is pretty big for a sheltie size snout like mine. The good thing is that the swelling went down pretty quickly and the next morning I woke up and you couldn't even tell something had happened to me. ~Johann The dog

Despite the sting that bees can dole out...."(bees are) the world’s most important pollinator of food crops," according to Sustain Web. "It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination mainly by bees."

While bees are very important to our food chain, there are a wide variety of dangers that plague bees; so much so that the the declining bee populations are now posing a threat to global agriculture.

In June of 2013 in Oregon, 25,000 bees were found dead in a Target parking lot, spurring environmentalists to claim the incident as 'one of the largest mass deaths of bumblebees in the western U.S.' Since the occurance, representatives from the Oregon State Department of Agriculture state that tests on bees and foliage showed the deaths are "directly related to a pesticide application on linden trees" that was meant to control aphids."

While pesticides and insecticides can be blamed for many of the world's bee population decline, there are other dangers lurking for bees, including the nasty bee disease American Foulbrood, which, along with other diseases, plagues our bees.

According to the Colorado Beekeepers Association, "American Foulbrood is probably the most feared of all bee diseases. It's a highly contagious and is spread through the use of contaminated equipment and through robbing of the diseased hive by other bees, caused by the Bacillus larvae bacteria. The bacteria feeds on the larva and kills them in their pre-pupal and pupal stages. American Foulbrood has a distinct odor. Most beekeepers will notice the odor before they will notice the rest of the symptoms."

Because American Foulbrood gives off a distinctive smell it makes it a perfect disease to identify and treat early for further spread and destruction.

Bazz, a black lab and also a beekeeper's dog, has been working tirelessly to help prevent the spread of this dreaded disease, but not without protection.

Josh Kennett, a beekeeper in Australia, and dog dad to Bazz, has outfitted him with an amazing dog beekeepers suit, designed to allow Bazz to sniff out the disease while staying safe.

The process of training his dog and developing the suit has been an attempt to find a better way of controlling American foulbrood.

How can you help bees? Here are several ideas:
Happy Beekeepinging!

Photos courtesy of Dustin and Jenae, tombayly13 and Josh Kennett.

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