Geek Out

The Australian Dog Beekeeper Suit: A Few Questions And Answers

This is Bazz. He’s a black Lab who lives in southern Australia with his owner, Josh Kennett. Other than that, he’s a perfectly normal pup. Except, you know, that he’s a dog beekeeper, with an incredible dog beekeeper suit to match.

You have questions. Let’s answer them.

Why a dog beekeeper?
Fair point. Dogs don’t have opposable thumbs or higher-level brain functions, which makes them an unlikely candidate for beekeeping. But Bazz is not a solo act! He works in tandem with Kennett — who does all of the beekeeping you would expect a human to do — by using his superior snout to sniff out a bee disease called American foulbrood.

Is American foulbrood the coolest possible name for a bee disease?
Yes! It also sounds like some sort of obscure Korn message board. It’s actually a pretty nasty “brood disease”, a bacteria that kills bee larvae at an alarming rate. American foulbrood also has a distinctive smell, which can help lead to early treatment.

What’s with the suit?
If you’re up on the beekeeping scene, you already know that dogs have been used to sniff out American foulbrood and other hive-minded disease for some time now, and that most of them don’t use protective gear. But it’s not that Bazz is a wimp; as Kennett explained to ABC.net.au, dogs that do similar work in the USA are protected by cold weather that keeps the bees at bay.

Does the dog like it?
Almost certainly not. But don’t take my word for it! Kennett says that developing the suit took “a long process of trial and error”, and that the hardest thing now is “getting the dog comfortable with the suit”. Translation: Honestly, he’d probably rather just get stung.

What does the suit look like when there’s no dog inside?
Uh… OK.

What does the dog look like when there’s no suit outside?
This, probably?

Is Bazz a good boy?
Such a good boy! One that hopefully doesn’t have to get stuffed inside that awful vacuum bag any more than is absolutely necessary. [ABC.net.au via Arbroath]

Pictures: Josh Kennett, Wiki Commons

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