Living in rural Australia has always involved working dogs. To date, Australia’s ‘winery dogs’ have several volumes of books documenting their role in the vineyard.
However, little has been said for the apiary dog. More than likely, that’s because dogs can’t get near a hive of bees without being aggressively chased away.
This was the problem Josh Kennett, the beekeeper from Tintinara in South Australia’s south-east. He began to train a black Labrador named Bazz to sniff out a nasty bee disease, American foulbrood.
While there are dogs in the United States who do similar work, the cold temperatures negate the need for protection. but not so in Australia.
“Their winters are far colder than ours, with snow over the top of beehives. We don’t have that situation here in South Australia. So I’ve tried to develop a suit the dog can wear and hopefully avoid being stung.”
Mr Kennett says after a long process of trial and error, he’s finally got a working prototype.
“We’ve now proven the concept, he can find the infected hives. The only challenge now is getting the dog comfortable with the suit. It’s hard to change a dog’s habits overnight. To fully cover a dog up and expect it to do the same thing, it takes time to change how he behaves and to get used to that suit.”
In trying to find a better way of controlling American foulbrood, he came up with the process of training his dog and developing the suit. The disease devastates beehives, and to date there’s no cure for it, so good control and quarantine are essential in apiaries across Australia. Mr. Kennett’s dog is ready for action after a lengthy training regime and with a suit ready to go.
You can read the origianl article here.