Fundraiser - Darwin's Bee Dogs & Gerty Cori

About Darwin's Bee Dogs

As told by Jacqueline Staab, founder of Darwin’s Bee Dogs:

“Darwin’s Bee Dogs are highly specialized conservation K9s that help us protect and learn more about our increasingly threatened pollinator species by finding bees!

With over a quarter of North America’s Bumblebees facing extinction risks, we need bee dogs like Gerty more than ever. Bumblebees are essential for ecological health and food security, yet not a lot is known about bumblebee nesting, which is a critical part of their ecology.

By helping us find bumblebee nests, these K9s are providing scientists with the opportunity to gather new data and information on these keystone species – which can help us prevent their extinction!”

To learn more about Darwin’s Bee Dogs and the importance of the bumblebee to our planet, click here for our Q&A with Jacqueline. 

About Gerty Cori

Gerty is a German Shorthaired Pointer. She is nine months old.

Gerty has been trained to identify and point at the odor of bumblebee nests. She has off-leash obedience for safety, too. 

How to donate

There are two ways you can make a donation. You can simply click on the donation button below to make a fast, secure payment via PayPal. Alternatively, you can complete a donation form, enclose your contribution and send it to the address below.

Highland Canine Connect
Attn: Darwin’s Bee Dogs & Gerty Fundraiser
145 Foxfield Drive
Harmony, NC 28634

Q&A with Jacqueline Staab, Founder of Darwin's Bee Dogs

Can you tell us a little bit about your own background and what motivated you to get into this field?

I’ve loved nature since I was born. I grew up in Morehead City in coastal North Carolina. As I grew up, I had a lot of different experiences, from babysitting sea turtle nests in Pine Knoll Shores, NC, cutting down invasive trees in Gateway, CO, and owning my own organic farm in Richlands, NC.

Through these experiences – as well as many others – I gained a great appreciation for flora and fauna and how they define a time and a place. My passion for insects, and bees especially, came with the management of my farm. I became a certified beekeeper in NC and couldn’t learn enough about these astounding little insects keeping the world afloat. Bees became my passion, and that’s when it hit me. ‘Whoa! If I can help save the bees, I can help the environment and the animals who call it home all at once! EUREKA!’

Then I was off with a focus to help any way I could. I decided the best way to do that was furthering my education and knowledge of the world around me, so I went for my Bachelors in Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology. At Appalachian State University, I joined Dr. Geib’s lab, and that is where everything came together. She studies native bee ecology and I was lucky enough to grab a volunteer position on her research team that summer in Fairplay, CO, doing pollinator studies and plant surveys. I was thriving. I was out there making an effort to make the world a better place for people, other animals, and the environment we all live in. I loved studying some of the coolest and most important (not to mention the cutest) insects out there: Bees!

darwins bee dogs logo

For those who might be unaware, please can you explain why bumblebees are such a pivotal species for our planet?

In my studies, I realized the paramount importance of our native bees as keystone pollinators, crucial to protecting the individuality, productivity, and resilience of our local habitats. Greater bee diversity means greater plant diversity, which means a bigger buffer between ecosystem health and disaster.

Despite this importance to wild plants, agricultural crops, food security, biosecurity – basically life in general – there are still huge gaps in our understanding of these disappearing heroes and their needs. YIKES! A lot of past studies have focused on floral needs or have been confined to commercial and managed bumblebees, which may not accurately reflect the behavior of their wild relatives, as wild nests are so hard to find. And focusing mainly on floral resources is only one part of the puzzle; we also need to know where they nest and over-winter. That’s where I decided to help.

What difference will Gerty make to your work, and how will she help you? What are the research activities she'll be helping you with?

The gaps that exist in our knowledge of bumblebees are due to the difficulty of finding nests and overwintering spots. With Bombus species in decline worldwide, studying their nesting ecology is imperative for protecting nesting habitat which is equal in importance to floral resources when it comes to species conservation.

The IUCN Bumblebee Specialist Group found that over a quarter of North American bumblebee species are facing some degree of extinction risk with some species declining more rapidly than others. The first step towards filling the knowledge gap is better nest and overwintering site detection. That’s where Gerty and Darwin’s Bee Dogs come in.

Gerty can cover way more ground a lot faster with a higher success rate. These dogs give us and other collaborating scientists access to wild nests like we’ve never had before, as well as the opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research on these imperiled pollinators. We will first be deployed in the National Forests in Virginia and West Virginia to document the status of endangered rusty patched bumblebees, in addition to the American bumblebee, which also faces rapid decline.

While pesticide use, habitat loss, disease, and climate change are all contributing to bumblebee decline; Darwin’s Bee Dogs are working hard to detect and protect these precious pollinators.

gerty and jacqueline

Donate at the PayPal link below, or by sending a check to our HQ!

Highland Canine Connect
Attn: Darwin’s Bee Dogs & Gerty Fundraiser
145 Foxfield Drive
Harmony, NC 28634

What will any donations be used towards?

Donations will be used for a variety of things, including:

  • Training 

  • Specimen Fridge – to keep the rare, hard-to-access nesting material safe and stored properly so there is no cross-contamination and the scents remain pure.

  • RexSpecs Goggles – to keep the UV and sticks out of Gerty’s eyes.

  • Shoes – so her paws don’t get cut or injured whilst working.

  • A smaller kennel – for her to travel safely to and from search environments.

  • E-collar – for protection and off-leash commands.
  • GoPro camera – for filming searches so we can continue to learn and improve.  

  • Teaching materials for presentations – to teach kids + adults the importance of bees.

Finally, some people might be wondering what's behind the name, Gerty Cori? Can you explain why you chose this name?

Gerty Cori was named after the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science. She won the prize in 1947. This was at a time when women were more marginalized in science and given few educational opportunities.

Gerty uncovered the process of cellular energy storage and release, answering one of the most fundamental questions about how the human body works. Gerty Cori was only the third woman ever to win a Nobel Prize, and was the first woman in America to do so.

I named the dog because she is every bit as smart and capable as her namesake and Gerty Cori deserves  to be remembered. Gerty herself was named after an Austrian warship, which is pretty cool in itself.

Your donations make a huge difference!

Donate at the PayPal link below, or by sending a check to our HQ!

Highland Canine Connect
Attn: Darwin’s Bee Dogs & Gerty Fundraiser
145 Foxfield Drive
Harmony, NC 28634

Our programs can only be made possible with your support! 

We thank you for your generosity.

You can follow Jacqueline and her team on social: