A new talent has been discovered: Bees have an exceptional sense of smell. With this talent, trained sniffer bees could become one of the United Kingdom’s most powerful weapons to combat terrorism.
Scientists from the University of hertfordshire built a transportable hand-held sensor with the capacity to hold 36 trained bees. “our sensor integrated live honeybees as the main component,” lead researcher Mathilde Briens told the U.K. magazine The Engineer.
The bees can detect a large variety of plastic explosives such as Semtex (used by terrorists for its detection complexity), hydrogen peroxide (one of the compounds used in homemade explosives), and gunpowder. if a bee smells the substance it is trained to detect, it responds by sticking out its tongue. At that moment, the bee’s response is tracked and an alarm is activated if a lot of bees smell the substance.
According to the project scientists, the bees are great detectors because they are inexpensive, broadly available, and can be trained within minutes. This project is funded by the U.K. government.