Friday, February 24, 2006

Bees Being 'Trained' as Odor Detectors

Bloodhound Bees to Take the Sting Out of Terrorism
By Clive Cookson, Financial Times (UK), 2/24/2006

British bees are vying with American wasps to play a role as ultra-sensitive odour detectors, with applications that include sniffing out explosives, diagnosing disease and monitoring food quality.

The insects are as sensitive as bloodhounds but can be "trained" far more quickly than dogs to recognise specific molecules.

Scientists have known for decades that insects have amazing olfactory powers, detecting molecules in the air at concentrations below one part per trillion (million million) but they have only recently found ways to exploit that ability.

In the UK a company called Inscentinel, based at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire, has been working for four years to harness honey bees for trace vapour detection. . .

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