Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have trained some bees to respond explosives, implying, according to at least one published report, that bees could be used to detect terror attacks or prevent bombs from being carried on to airplanes.
Writing for Geek.com on December 19, 2013, Graham Templeton reported that “Bomb sniffing bees may one day keep airports safe.”
“The captive insects,” wrote Templeton, “which are being trained at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, are conditioned to stick out their tongues at terrorists.”
As crazy as it sounds, Templeton’s report is not fair from the truth. In 2006, the laboratory notified the media that it was successfully training bees, and in August 2008, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, reported on page 24 of its technical magazine that “in Pavlovian tradition, members of the Laboratory’s Stealthy Insect Sensor project have used sweet treats to condition honeybees to respond to the chemical scent of explosives.”
“The bees extend their proboscis (tongue) when exposed to explosives. Team members have trained the bees to do this by rewarding them with a dose of sugar each time they react to the smell of explosive chemicals such as TNT and C-4. Proboscis extension is a reflex normally triggered by the presence of nectar,” the Los Alamos National Laboratory reported in 2008.
If you are interested in trying to raise your own bees, check out the beekeeping section of D&B Supply’s website or visit a store near you.
- Los Alamos Science and Technology Magazine (PDF) August 2008
- Graham Templeton’s Article, “Bomb sniffing bees may one day keep airports safe”
- Julia Layton’s Article, “How can you train honeybees to sniff for bombs?”
- Susan Gaidos’ paper (PDF), “Scienists Use Bees and Wasps to Sniff Out The Illicit and the Dangerous”