Meet Bazz, the canine beekeeper

No, it isn’t a Halloween costume, but an actual doggie beekeeper suit for Bazz; the pooch sniffs out a disease that has been wiping out bees in South Australia. (Photo credit: Josh Kennett/Caters News Agency)

A black Labrador Retriever named Bazz is certainly creating a lot of “buzz” in the insect world.

Bazz’s owner, Josh Kennett, is a beekeeper from Tintinara, South Australia. One of Kennett’s specialties is protecting the bee population from a condition called American Foulbrood, a disease that has been wiping out bees in Australia and around the world.

American Foulbrood is spread through tiny spores called Paenibacillus larvae. These spores germinate inside larval tissues and can multiply very rapidly, wiping out entire hives of bees.

“There is no cure for the disease,” Kennett explains. “Detection and quarantine processes are essential to save our bees.”

Searching for a better way to uncover cases of American Foulbrood in his bees, Kennett looked no further than his intelligent dog, Bazz. Kennett diligently trained Bazz to use his super sniffer and detect any emerging cases of the illness before it wipes out whole colonies of bees.

“I realized that Bazz was able to sniff out the disease, and save thousands of bees—but he didn’t like being around them too much when he was getting stung,” Kennett tells the Daily Mail.

To protect Bazz from painful beestings, Kennett designed and built a special doggie beekeeper suit, which Bazz must wear before his trips out to the hives. Bazz’s suit includes a large cone and netting to cover his head and face and even a set of impenetrable booties.

But Bazz isn’t always comfortable in his somewhat cumbersome bee-proof attire, Kennett admits.

“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,” Kennett explains. “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.”

“But he’s a quick learner and he’s never let us down before,” he adds.

Sources: Daily Mail, Huffington Post