The buzz on Klinker, Md.’s newby bee dog
A black Labrador retriever trained late last year, Klinker is part of the department’s strategy to detect diseased bee colonies. Specifically, she’s looking for American foulbrood, the most common and destructive bacterial disease facing Maryland’s honeybees.
Klinker’s normal workday consists of walking along rows of hives. When she smells bacteria, she sits, alerting her handler.
A recent Washington Post story described American foulbrood as a bacteria that forms microscopic spores that can survive for decades, spreading quickly from hive to hive, killing bee larvae. If the infection is caught early, the hive can be treated with antibiotics. If not, the hive usually must be destroyed.
Since the 1970s, U.S. beekeepers have reported a shrinking bee population because of bacteria, disease, pesticides and parasites. Some of those factors might also contribute to Colony Collapse Disorder, in which worker bees abandon their hive for no known reason.
“If it were not for the honeybees, there would not be enough food on Planet Earth to support life as we know it,” said Jerry Fischer, who is in charge of the state’s Apiary Inspection Program. “Early detection of the disease by Klinker and Troup will save Maryland beekeepers substantial monetary loss from eradication of diseased bees and destruction of infected equipment.”
A trained hive-sniffing dog such as Klinker can inspect 100 honeybee colonies in about 45 minutes, far more than humans, who inspect fewer than half that number in a day.
Klinker, who is 18 months old, is the fourth bee dog to serve in the department. In the late 1970s, Maryland became the first state to use dogs to detect disease in honeybee colonies, and it is the only state to keep a full-time “bee dog” on its staff.
(Photo: State of Maryland)
Posted by John Woestendiek March 17th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alert, apiary, bacterial, bee, bee dog, bees, colonies, colony, department of agriculture, detect, disease, hive-sniffing, hives, honeybees, inspection, inspector, klinker, labrador retriever, maryland, smell, sniff