There are a lot of factors in the decline of honeybees, and while most of the focus is on Varroa mites and neonicotinoid pesticides, there are other things to take into consideration. For instance, honeybees are susceptible to bacterial infections, such as American foulbrood, or AFB. American foulbrood is a very contagious infection that can take down entire colonies, and while the symptoms can be controlled with antibiotic treatment, it cannot be cured and most infected colonies have to be destroyed to prevent the disease from spreading.
So how do beekeepers stay one step ahead of this severe infection? According to this report by NPR, some are using dogs. In Maryland, where the beekeeping industry numbers in the thousands of colonies, it is of the utmost importance that infected hives don’t cross state lines. To help in this pursuit, the Department of Agriculture has kept a “bee dog”, trained to sniff out American foulbrood, on staff since the early 1980s. Currently, the position is held by a yellow lab called Mack, who works in the cooler season while the bees are less active. While a human can inspect 10 hives in about 45 minutes, Mack can insect 100 hives in the same amount of time.
While the presence of AFB usually results in destruction of the colony, that goes a long way to keeping the remaining bee population healthy. Bee-sniffing dogs provide a priceless service as the first line of defense against this infection.
Hummer and Son Honey proudly offers you the finest Louisiana raw honey and other bee products. We’d love to tell you more about our bees or answer any questions you have, so please feel free to contact us!