Some dogs fetch or roll over on command. Others can sniff out drugs or track the scent of a rabbit. And then there's Klinker. Her talent is a bit more unusual. Klinker, a black Labrador retriever, is the only certified dog in the United States that can sniff out a specific bacteria that is killing our bee populations.
The bacteria is called American foulbrood, and it's responsible for a whole lot of bee damage out there. The USDA calls this bacteria one of the most widespread and most destructive of the honeybee brood diseases. Yikes.
But Klinker is here to save the bees' day (and ours too!). She's been trained to detect it — and she's better at it than any human out there. Her sniffing skills are in high demand. Bee populations are in rough shape.
Greenpeace reports a 40% loss of all commercial honeybees in the United States in the last 10 years. That's so many. And that's why it's great that Klinker can inspect up to 1,000 bee colonies a day.
Klinker's ability to detect the disease early on prevents mass destruction of bee colonies. And it saves some serious cash, too.
Usually, when the American foulbrood bacteria is discovered, it's too late to save the bees. The beekeeper often has no choice but to burn the whole colony down (with a sad, sad fire) to keep it from spreading. This is costly. Not to mention pretty sad.
But Klinker can detect the bacteria before that,saving her state of Maryland money and bees at the same time.
Klinker, who is 18 months old, is the department's fourth bee dog. She replaced Thorne, an 8-year-old yellow Labrador retriever who retired recently. Troup said Klinker is doing a good job, and she has been rewarded with squeaky toys and head pats. During one of her first inspections, in January, Klinker found a diseased colony that a human inspector had missed.
You can see more of how awesome she is in this National Geographic clip. https://youtu.be/rtYVhej-9bY
This pup is efficient, economic, and helping to save an insect we desperately need if we want to to keep living life the way we all do.
Now we just need more dogs like her!
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