How puppy could help save region's bee population
A DOG training centre in the Southern Downs known for teaching canines how to find truffles will help support the region's bee populations.
Lawdogs Australia in Stanthorpe will start training a new German hunting terrier called Jag to detect a bacterial problem found in hives that can devastate bee populations.
Head trainer Matthew Hibberd said he was approached by apiarist Jason Traplin to help with detecting American Foulbrood early before it spread to other hives on his property.
Mr Hibberd said well-trained dogs could smell the bacteria from outside the hive, making them a valuable weapon against it.
"They have sourced that pup, he's passed his initial assessment and then we'll start teaching him that once they find a sample of an infected hive," he said.
"It'll only take six weeks, but he'll need to be more mature so it will be a six month operation.
"The process to train dogs to detect is very straight-forward, whether it's bees, truffles, drugs or explosives.
"Once we're known for our detection demonstrations, people have come to see us to ask about a variety of different industries."
American Foulbrood is a fatal disease caused by a spore forming bacterium. Heavy infections can affect most of the brood and eventually kill the colony.
Mr Traplin, who owns Granite Belt Honey, said it was vital to keep the disease in check when keeping bees.
"I have seen dogs used in the industry and thought we really need one in our operation as there are cost efficiencies in being able to locate infected hives quickly," he said.
Lawdogs Australia earned a reputation for training skilled truffle dogs, with Stanthorpe and the Southern Downs being the only place in Queensland cold enough to grow the fungus.
Mr Hibberd still runs truffle demonstrations with his dog Conan at the centre.