The eco-canine with a sting in his tail: Hunting dog who gets a buzz out of saving bees


What a buzz: Ted the Rhodesian Ridgeback sniffs out this bee to make sure his owner can log their habitats and keep them protected

His ancestors were trained to hunt lions.
But Ted the Rhodesian ridgeback has a more environmentally friendly task to perform.
In an exercise endorsed by Bumble Bee Conservation, the 11 month-old dog is sniffing his way up and down hedgerows to find bumble bee nests so they can be logged to make sure their habitat is protected.
Owner Graham Roberts, who runs a wildlife gardening business in Fittleworth, West Sussex said: ‘He doesn’t break into the nest because being stung would obviously put him off. 'He just lets me know where it is so I can investigate.

I nose where they are: Bumblebee nests are difficult to find and it will take Ted a few months to get the hang of smelling them out

'Then he gets rewarded for his efforts.'
Ted – who cost £950 and sports the pedigree name of Edward Blacktail – sniffs out the bumble bee nests to help the species survive in a battle against pesticides and intensive farming methods.

Getting to nose you: Ted is introduced to the queen bumblebee so that he can remember its smell and hunt it out in the future

Mr Roberts, 43, added: ‘They are incredibly difficult to find because in comparison to honey bee colonies they are quite small, with only about 250 occupants at most.
‘The queens look for old vole or mouse holes or under tussocks of grass. The difference with honey bees is that they produce nectar but use it all themselves to survive.
‘I have been training Ted to sniff out the nests, which have a very strong and pungent smell – a bit like a jar of honey, old grass clippings and mouldy wax paper.

Ridgeback: Eleven month old Ted 'nose' not to get too close to the bumblebees

‘I chose him because he is very intelligent, has great scenting skills and has the stamina to go on and on all day.
‘Bumble bees are fascinating insects – one of the most complex of them all. They can regulate their own temperatures to keep warm which is one of the reasons you will see them flying around on a cold day.
'They can therefore pollenate plants, like broad beans, even when the temperature is down.
‘Their movement is critical to some pollenation, they don’t mind going out in the rain and some have especially long tongues to cope with different plant varieties.

Great team: Ted with his owner Graham Roberts who runs a wildlife gardening business in West Sussex

'The trouble is that some of these plants are being wiped out by modern farming methods, and if you wipe out the plant, you wipe out the bumble bee.’
‘There are 24 species of bumble bee and they are so important in pollenating things that we take for granted, like broad beans, raspberries and marrows.
'If you don’t have the bees, nothing gets pollenated, so nothing grows.’

source: dailymail