A Dog’s Nose Knows Bees

Yellow Lab Mack uses his nose to monitor honeybee health and his work is nothing to sneeze at.

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Simple sniffer? Guess again. This dog's nose goes above and beyond. Via Maryland State Beekeepers Association
Anastasia Thrift

There’s a honeybee crisis and only one animal can save us: the loyal, lovable dog.

Dogs like yellow Labrador Retriever Mack are inspecting hives for American foulbrood, or AFB, between state lines, National Public Radio reports. The contagious bacterial disease attacks and eventually kills honeybee colonies, and dogs’ superior smellers can sense it before people can.

Two-year-old Mack helps chief apiary inspector Cybil Preston inspect beehives in Maryland. And he’s not the first one they’ve had to monitor hives that migrate between states.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has used dogs to detect bee issues since 1982. Klinker held the position earlier this year but retired, making room for Mack, the fifth dog to hold the position of “bee dog.”

Mack inspects 100 hives in 45 minutes, using his nose as a guide. Preston would have to open each hive for a visual check. Mack can do this with his eyes closed.

According to NPR, dogs make the operation run efficiently. Last year, Maryland state inspectors checked 2,200 hives and found 13 cases of AFB.

“Every hive Klinker alerted on was 100 percent correct and certified by the USDA as confirmed AFB,” Preston told NPR. “It would be a lot more prevalent if we weren’t doing dog inspections.”

The nose knows.

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