After Cyborg Beetles We Now Have Sniffer Bees

Oct 14, 2009
Updated • Dec 26, 2012

Next time you visit an airport, there’s a chance of you being sniffed by, not dogs, but bees. Yes, they are now down to training bees to sniff and apparently it is proving to be extremely successful.

While the cyborg beetles in my last post are still nowhere near practical implementation, these sniffer bees are already being used to detect suspect chemicals that are used in explosives. Thankfully, unlike their cyborg brethren, these insects are actually there to stop the violence before it happens by sniffing out bombs and explosives.

These bees are normal honeybees that have been trained to respond to certain chemicals. They are rewarded for responding correctly to the chemicals. This is the same training procedure that is used to train dogs and other animals to respond to certain stimulus, usually smell. Another procedure used to train animals is by inducing pain whenever they make a mistake. This is used to train them to avoid certain things or to take one specific path through a maze.

A company called Insentinel is behind training these bees by exposing them to tiny samples of chemicals. Bees are extremely sensitive when it comes to picking up traces in the air, so they make for perfect sniffers. It has already been shown that they can pick up the traces in concentrations to the tune of one in one million million. As the reporter puts it, that is like a grain of salt in a swimming pool.

Sources are of the opinion that the system may be in place within a year from now. So the next time you are at the airport and hear a strange buzzing noise, you’ll know there’s no place to hide.

How will people with bee allergies react when bees are used on airports to sniff for dangerous or illegal substances?


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  1. Delores Quade said on April 5, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    This one I don’t find funny. Why? Because pain is induced when the bee makes a mistake isn’t funny. Why do we always abuse and take advantage of the smartest and most innocent animals (i.e., dolphins, anyone?) in an attempt to deter, fight, or defend against hostile nations or even citizens?

    What about inducing PAIN on the baggage handlers? More PAIN on the lazy asses checking your carry-on luggage that STILL miss guns, powder, and bomb making devices? TAZERS??????????? What the hell is wrong with this picture? Bees have their own job to do – mandated just for them – no one else is here on the planet to do it. Carry on luggage and metal detector random checkers are easily trained, tazed, and replaced. Besides, _that_ would be funny.

  2. Transcontinental said on October 15, 2009 at 11:39 am

    “Imagination is funny, it makes a cloudy day sunny
    Makes a bee think of honey just as I think of you”
    Not just of honey anymore :)

  3. Vitamin B-17 said on October 15, 2009 at 5:47 am

    But somehow they can’t find a cure for cancer.

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