Doggy Detective

ANDREW MANGUM/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

TRAINING TIME: Mack the Labrador retriever learns how to sniff out objects containing bacteria that cause American foulbrood.

Mack the Labrador retriever is an adorable dog with an unusual ability. His super-powered sense of smell is helping save honeybees from a deadly disease.

Mack’s owner, Cybil Preston, is the chief apiary inspector for the Maryland Department of Agriculture. She trained Mack to sniff out American foulbrood. This disease is caused by a bacterium and is fatal to bees. Together, Preston and Mack inspect hives around the state for signs of the deadly condition to stop it before it spreads.

ANDREW MANGUM/THE NEW YORK TIMES/REDUX

KEEPING WATCH: Preston inspects a hive for visual signs of foulbrood, like spores produced by the bacteria.

Mack detects foulbrood with his nose more efficiently than humans can see signs of it with their eyes—which is good for all of us. Bees pollinate about a third of U.S. crops. By transferring pollen from flower to flower as they feed, bees help these plants reproduce. “Without bees to pollinate our crops, our food choices would be much more limited and expensive,” says Preston.