It may sound like a line from last season’s Doctor Who, but the disappearance of the Bumblebees is a very real problem in the UK. They are vanishing, and three varieties of the twenty five different types are already extinct.
Don’t worry though; we don’t need the Doctor to get to the bottom of the problem, Toby the Springer Spaniel is on the case!
Researchers are looking into the disappearance and decline of the Bumblebee, and they’ve trained Toby the Springer Spaniel to help them find their nests. Toby has been specifically trained to sniff out bees’ nests. According to experts, it’s very hard to find their nests because they are well hidden in undergrowth. This is where Toby comes in.
Prof Dave Goulson is involved with the work that sees Toby helping researchers for three years:
They have only about 50 workers and maybe 100 in the bumblebee nest so there isn’t a lot of traffic going in and out. You can imagine that occasionally seeing a bee flying out of a clump of grass is pretty hard to spot.
Toby was trained at Melton Mowbray, where other dogs are trained to detect explosives. He’d been abandoned as a puppy, and is now helping to save the bees in the UK. The idea of using a dog to sniff out the bees comes from nature, as badgers hunt bees using their sense of smell.