Science Questions

Can bees sniff out explosives?

Sun, 24th Jun 2012

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Michael Malone, via Facebook asked:

I've heard about honey bees sniffing out explosives, any updated information on this method?


Graham -  As well as dogs, you can use other animals to find explosives and bees are one of those.  Bees use several different cues to find food including the smell of sources of food, so you can train them to associate the source of food with the smell of TNT.  Then, if you grab hold of a trained bee and pass TNT vapour across it, it sticks its tongue out.  So this is an interesting new way of using animals in order to detect TNT and there's a UK company called Insentinel that are developing this biotechnology.


See also:  "Humble Honey Bee Helping National Security" by Anna Khot.


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source Lmnre, Tue, 26th Jun 2012

I must apologise most profusely for this, the temptation is too great for me to resist.

You’d need 20/20 vision to be able to see this.

Fred – Come and look at this Bert, is this Bee poking its tongue out?
Bert – You’re looking at the wrong end of the Bee, Fred.
Fred – Ah! So that would be its….
Bert – Modified ovipositor.
Fred – I’ve never seen it called that on the porn sites before.

Should have gone to………

Now if a certain high street optician uses this idea in its adverts, I shall expect royalties.
Don_1, Wed, 27th Jun 2012

I could imagine the TSA using a swarm of bees at the screening gates...  the buzz might be somewhat foreboding to customers.  A computer sensor should be able to catch and analyse images of the bees mouths and tongue.  Does one actually have to walk through the swarm?

After doing repeated strip searches on women....
The might eventually determine that the bees also like to stick their tongues out for certain perfumes.
As well as honey sweetened coffee or tea. CliffordK, Wed, 27th Jun 2012

i could see this being used in some kind of sting operation.... acecharly, Sat, 7th Jul 2012

Somebody had to say it! Don_1, Thu, 12th Jul 2012

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