Can bees sniff out explosives?

24 June 2012

Question

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

Answer

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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