AFB, or American Foulbrood, is a highly contagious bacterial disease that infects honeybee broods and eventually kills the colony – and we should care. Why? Because bees are pollinators and they’re vital to the food chain. Put another way, 1/3 of the food we eat wouldn’t be available if it weren’t for bees. In 2010, honeybees were part of helping produce approximately $19 billion worth of agricultural crops in the U.S. alone. They matter, so when something comes along that ensures that infected hives don’t cross state lines, it matters, too.
The newest apiary inspector at the Maryland Department of Agriculture has a powerful sniffer. Also four legs and fur. It’s “Mack,” a 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever who replaced a black Lab named “Klinker” who retired last year (see a trend?)
The Maryland Department of Agriculture has had a “bee dog” on staff since 1982 and is believed to be the only state agency in the nation using a dog to detect AFB. Read here for more on this, the article from which our thumbnail image comes.