Jump to content

AFB Detector dogs: with MPI funding


Recommended Posts

WWW.SUNLIVE.CO.NZ

 Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood in beehives could save New Zealand’s...

 

 

article on detector dogs with funding support from a number of areas/groups.

Not a single word from the management agency, may speak volumes. However since taking a lot of the work inhouse and taking on new staff their stance may have changed?

I didn't know "previous methods have led to inconclusive results in the field", does anyone have proof to back up such a statement?

Whatever happens, I'm a supporter of both previous, current and future dogs being thoroughly trained, used and explored. 

It seems to me that something like this could be a game changer if we really want to eliminate AFB.

Disclosure: we are blind foundation puppy raisers and therefore extemely biased and extremely dissappointed AFB sniffer dogs are not fully funded.

If the agency got into this I'd support a fee increase!! Because even if it doesn't work it is worth trying super hard and I'm actually really confident it can be made to work given the performance of drug sniffer dogs and the like.

Edited by ChrisM
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Detector dogs could help save bees WWW.SUNLIVE.CO.NZ  Training dogs to sniff out the highly infectious bacterial disease American Foulbrood in beehives could save New Zealand’

I put our very low incidence of AFB these days to the fact that we've been running AFB dogs for a number of years ....persistent, patient pressure , screening and quarantines has paid dividends. Somew

That must feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth after all the work and $$ you put into your program.  it’s a shame mpi didn’t support you then and we could be years down the track with this rese

Yes there was an item on the tv news about it lastnight, seems like a great idea, surely easier for a quick sniff of a hive by a dog, than laboriously inspecting every frame....but I wonder about logistics, a lot of hives dotted around the country, a lot of ground to be covered by dogs. But certainly for areas where the commercial beek has a lot of hives, must be more efficient. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, gordie said:

Yes there was an item on the tv news about it lastnight, seems like a great idea, surely easier for a quick sniff of a hive by a dog, than laboriously inspecting every frame....but I wonder about logistics, a lot of hives dotted around the country, a lot of ground to be covered by dogs. But certainly for areas where the commercial beek has a lot of hives, must be more efficient. 

yes I agree.

My view is that the costs of running a large scale breeding and training program like the blind foundation is really really big bucks, I don't think it is in the realm of commercial beek diy nor get-rich-quick nor ad hoc dog trainers. However, as shown by customs, blind low vision and the various other service dog entities it can be done. Blind Low Vision NZ actually does sell fully trained guide dogs to overseas blind foundations and the money that comes in, helps enable supplying extra guide dogs in NZ. So, if we had a serious AFB sniffer dog program I think it must be run by the Management Agency itself (as opposed to being tolerated by them) and it would generate money selling fully trained AFB sniffer dogs overseas, let alone employing handlers and dog stations in each region of NZ supporting local AP2.

At the very least 100x more hives could be given a quick scan and only indicated hives would need be inspected by AP2. So far as I know we have only one AP2 in Tauranga, so this would make far better use of his time, if in future, he only opens hives that already most likely have AFB. But for sure it will take a lot of money, I think I read the blind foundation dogs cost about $30k each when you consider how many dogs they produce annually against how much the whole show costs to run. Once fully trained they only work for about 5 years then get retired out. So if there was a working population of 100 AFB sniffer dogs nationally, you might need to generate at least 20 fully trained dogs per year to keep that topped up. I'd suggest aiming for 30 so you could sell 10. Of all the dogs the blind foundation raises I think only about 20% make it to graduation, a lot get offloaded into companion dogs or the other services that are not quite so fussy. Anyway, it means to generate 30 dogs are year our breeding program might need to produce about 150 puppies annually. The blind foundation doesn't breed from any old mutt, currently we have a BLV standard poodle and her X Rays are being reviewed in the USA before she is considered for their breeding program or else gets fixed and goes into training.

So it would be a big undertaking and the stance of the Management Agency to tread cautiously is understandable, they don't have money available to bite off more than they can chew at a whim.

However, eradication of AFB is still the aim.. not management of afb.

If MPI are supporting this then I'm grateful and at long last is the first recorded instance where I have applauded MPI for something/anything.

  • Good Info 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, gordie said:

Yes bring it on I say, and on a side note, I doff my hat to thee, bringing up those puppies. That is an awesome job you are doing....I couldn't raise a puppy and hand it over to someone else, so full respect to you on that mate.

it is a bit like raising teenagers and then you wish them well when they go off to University to get fully trained; onwards and upwards. We hope we have equipped them with the skills to manage it. Also we do hope to get one of them back here when they retire. Meanwhile Blind Low Vision are pretty sneaky; immediately they produce another 8 week puppy to help you take your mind off it!! 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I put our very low incidence of AFB these days to the fact that we've been running AFB dogs for a number of years ....persistent, patient pressure , screening and quarantines has paid dividends. Somewhere on the Net is Sarah Hights d oco ....'A million dollar Nose' that documents a day in the life of  AFB dog Georgie. 

The agency was against the idea of dogs as a screening method from day one, then back tracked a few years ago to say they might consider the idea after 'rigorous scientific testing' ..... so at last someone has had a quiet word with MPI and persuaded them to fund some research. Lets hope the money is put to good use  and something meaningful results for the wider Bee keeper community.

 

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

The way I understand it , MPI have provided funding for an independent trainer to do some research ..... which, dare I say it, sounds a bit like reinventing the  wheel ...... but if it provides usable evidence to show that dogs are 92% effective at AFB detection ..... then we have progress.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
53 minutes ago, jamesc said:

The way I understand it , MPI have provided funding for an independent trainer to do some research ..... 

 

 

That must feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth after all the work and $$ you put into your program. 

it’s a shame mpi didn’t support you then and we could be years down the track with this research. 

  • Like 2
  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, jamesc said:

I put our very low incidence of AFB these days to the fact that we've been running AFB dogs for a number of years ....persistent, patient pressure , screening and quarantines has paid dividends. Somewhere on the Net is Sarah Hights d oco ....'A million dollar Nose' that documents a day in the life of  AFB dog Georgie. 

The agency was against the idea of dogs as a screening method from day one, then back tracked a few years ago to say they might consider the idea after 'rigorous scientific testing' ..... so at last someone has had a quiet word with MPI and persuaded them to fund some research. Lets hope the money is put to good use  and something meaningful results for the wider Bee keeper community.

 

How do they use the dogs, by that what is the best times and conditions that dogs are best used and when is it not a good time, and how often are the dogs checked to see that they still up to the job?

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, yesbut said:

So are MPI actively investigating using dogs ?

Hmmm, did you read the article? :) 

MPI are said to be a partly funding this research; that's all.

I don't imagine MPI would be actively using the dogs unless they disbanded the Management Agency and took over the eradication of AFB themselves.

2 hours ago, Dennis Crowley said:

How do they use the dogs, by that what is the best times and conditions that dogs are best used and when is it not a good time, and how often are the dogs checked to see that they still up to the job?

far more often than you mandate beekeepers and AP2 undertake refresher courses.

Given the performance of drug dogs searching post and passengers, I'd suggest we don't need to concern ourselves about the operational level of detail if we use professionals in that area.

 

2 hours ago, nikki watts said:

it’s a shame mpi didn’t support you then and we could be years down the track with this research. 

I agree. In years long past now, the agency was focussed only on the arcane wording of the statutes. Whereas now the agency is more creative thinking about how to actually get the job done and there are too many changes to list. We just have to be grateful it is now being followed up, better late than never; is a positive way to look at it.

But I do object to the comments in the article that the dogs to date were in some way not fit for purpose, having refused to take any notice of the dogs those comments appear ignorant and they can't have it both ways.

  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

The SNI Group has been assisting with this project for about 3 years.

The first part of the project is to identify the volatiles that make up AFB (my words, not scientific).

Massey University in Palmerston North is doing the Laboratory work to identify the volatiles.

 

Trevor, was it my imagination the other night when I saw the item on TV1, was there a Plant and Food scientists interviewed?  Are they also involved?

Link to post
Share on other sites
16 minutes ago, Trevor Gillbanks said:

The SNI Group has been assisting with this project for about 3 years.

The first part of the project is to identify the volatiles that make up AFB (my words, not scientific).

Massey University in Palmerston North is doing the Laboratory work to identify the volatiles.

 

Is this the same project that the brilliant dog trainer we had at Bee Green Camp Rangi talked about in February this year Trevor?

Link to post
Share on other sites
42 minutes ago, Maggie James said:

Trevor, was it my imagination the other night when I saw the item on TV1, was there a Plant and Food scientists interviewed?  Are they also involved?

 

I am not sure @Maggie James I did not see the TV1 program.  

Collectively we have been looking at this project for a few years now, Pete (the dog man) came to our SNI group and asked us for assistance.

The approach here is slightly different in that we are trying to separate and identify the volatiles within AFB.  This is to try and prevent false positives.

 

I don't want to say any more details on this. Sorry.  Except to say that the SNI Group was the first to put their hand in their pockets and we have donated several thousand dollars to it.

 

35 minutes ago, EmmetHuttValley said:

Is this the same project that the brilliant dog trainer we had at Bee Green Camp Rangi talked about in February this year Trevor?

 

Yes. it is the same project.

 

 

 

  • Good Info 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, ChrisM said:

ar more often than you mandate beekeepers and AP2 undertake refresher courses.

Given the performance of drug dogs searching post and passengers, I'd suggest we don't need to concern ourselves about the operational level of detail if we use professionals in that area.

 

You may be right about the dogs but I'd still like to know answer my question of how the dogs are used, can they be used at any time of the day when bees are flying or do the bees need to be home etc etc etc etc

Link to post
Share on other sites

There is a lot of AFB research going on - with support from MPI and also @AFB PMP Management Agency. For methods to be used by the agency then they must be scientifically written up/ peer-reviewed etc. 

MPI support various projects through the SFFF scheme (on holiday, not spelling it out) - there’s projects for Southern beekeeper group, phages at Massey Albany, Pete/Massey/Plant and Food. 

 

Would be interested to know how they came up with the figure of $10 million as an industry cost per year

 

TV clip is here

WWW.TVNZ.CO.NZ

American Foulbrood costs NZ’s honey industry $10 million every year but Pete Gifford wants to change that.

 

 

 

 

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
41 minutes ago, Dennis Crowley said:

Also people you are forgetting that the AFB agency is not there to find your AFB, you as the beekeeper are it is your responsibility 

I am well aware it is my responsibility.  But others out there can't or don't want to understand that, and some just let it go rampant for whatever reason.  I can't be responsible for them and I can't take the law into my own hands.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I personally have no doubt that dogs are very effective at detecting both clinical and subclinical AFB..

Entrance swabs can do the same thing and testing of bulk honey can detect if somebody has a problem.

These are all useful tools and could and should be used to detect when someone has an unidentified problem but the only way we have of differentiating clinical and subclinical hives at the moment is a visual inspection. I'm not sure what the difference in cost is between a dog and a swab but I suspect swabs will give a more accurate picture of the spore loading on the particular hive whereas a dog will only be able to to say yes or no. 

I have some hives that have been tested twice if anyone wants to run a dog around them and compare results.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, nikki watts said:

That must feel like a bit of a kick in the teeth after all the work and $$ you put into your program. 

it’s a shame mpi didn’t support you then and we could be years down the track with this research. 

Kick in the teeth ..... no not really. We initiated our dog program to solve a problem that was knawing away at us .... employing overseas staff who didn't appreciate the seriousness of AFB and so making us think outside the square to solve the problem , which we have.

What we discovered was that the dogs were quite good at what they did. They aren't a one shot wonder, but a very effective tool to do large scale rapid screening ..... 800 hives in an evening session was the record I think.

The kick in the the teeth was when we suggested to the industry that the dogs might be quite a good tool to help control a growing problem , and there we met with a beauracratic stonewall.

Funny how good ideas are so often thwarted by beaurocratic Nay Sayers ... ever see that movie where the dude gets sick of saying No in life, so decides to Yes to everything ..... and how his life suddenly got a positive spin.

 

So kick in the the teeth ?  

The kick in the the teeth was from those who purport to  govern how we operate ,and  who stifled free thought and progress.

But good things take time eh .... so lets bring it on ..... new energy to  look at dogs as a cheap and effective way to mass screen hives for problems before they surface at a too  late stage and the Beeman  in the paddock has to foot the bill and pick up the pieces from his neighbours incompetence.

 

One last point .... and it sort of demonstrates the lack of cohesion within the industry.

Our dog program has been in operation for about ten seasons.

 Rene is a man with a lifetime of dog experience and steered our operation from inception to fruition and absorbed a lot of information about how dogs work around the bees and what does and doesn't work ...

If the industry was a cohesive forward thinking industry it would build on that experience

 

Reinventing the wheel is often a waste of precious resources ! 

Edited by jamesc
  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, Dennis Crowley said:

How do they use the dogs, by that what is the best times and conditions that dogs are best used and when is it not a good time, and how often are the dogs checked to see that they still up to the job?

Jamesc you mentioned a night time check of your hives with the dogs, cam you tell me how he dogs work 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yo ..... I was going to get back to this, but thought it too much info for one post.

 

Canine Modus Operandii.

 

Dogs do not like bees, and generally once stung, get stung shy.

There is a time and place for their use.

 

Generally the handler goes out very early morning, or late in the evening, when the bees are home.

Best results are on the cooler days.

Warm nights when the bees are humming at the front door are not ideal.

 

 Most of the dog work on live hives is done in the winter, spring and early autumn.

In the early days we had one client who employed us to scan hives prior to taking his cop off. 

We travelled from Westport to Hokitika, starting at about 9.00pm and finished at about 3.00am, and did , from memory, about 200 hives.

We marked issues and told him to visually inspect.

Out of curiosity we popped into a couple of hives the yards the next day for a look see.

All the honey was gone.

We surmised that no visual inspection had been done .... and never did hives with crops on for other people again.

 

The success of the dog program is all down to the Handler. The Handler needs to be able to read the dog's body language, the ever so slight lift of the nose or  the change of pace , and make a decision based on  climate, scent patterns or whether the dog is just messing about.

 

It's not for me to go into all the details and skill required because I just pay the bills for a service ..... you know how it is....

you employ a professional to get a good result.

 

Scanning dead gear or suspect gear in the shed is a lot easier. There are no breezes to waft the scent pattern of the AFB around the area .....think deodoriser in the toilet ..... a quick puff of the can and the scent is all around the room ..... so too with AFB.

Scanning dead gear or quarantine gear before it goes back on the bees is a great way to minimise AFB spread.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Good Info 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, jamesc said:

Dogs do not like bees, and generally once stung, get stung shy.

we take our blind foundation dogs beekeeping. The black lab not only got stung and shy exactly as you say, but even tethered some distance away from the hive bees sometimes found him. On the other hand the white standard poodle looks a bit like a sheep and either doesn't get stung or doesn't care, off lead right up to hives no issue (so far) young poodles also bounce around quite a bit which I wouldn't think is a help either. Poodles are harder to train because they are intelligent and sharp as a tack. But I'm sure there are a number of breeds with different senses of smell that would be considered in a full time program.

Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...