Honey to the B(oom)

I'm not in the habit of reprinting people's press releases verbatim, but this practically demands it. My favourite bit comes at the end: "The mobile fume cupboard supplied by Air Science Technologies will help bees to be trained ‘on-the-fly’".

I'm not in the habit of reprinting people's press releases verbatim, but this practically demands it. My favourite bit comes at the end: "The mobile fume cupboard supplied by Air Science Technologies will help bees to be trained ‘on-the-fly’". Cross-breeding, anyone?

Bomb-sniffing Honeybees trained on Air Science Technologies Fume Cupboard

"Air Science Technologies, a specialist designer and manufacturer of fume containment systems, has supplied a mobile fume cupboard to Inscentinel Ltd a company based in Hertfordshire who is developing a sensor using trained sniffer bees to detect odours such as trace vapours of explosives.

"The researchers train the honeybees by placing them in front of an airflow which contains traces of chemicals commonly used in explosives. Simultaneously the bees are rewarded with a sugar solution which the bee then quickly learns to associate with the smell of the explosive. Within 15 minutes the bees are trained and ready to be placed in a specialist box which monitors the movement of their proboscis (tongue). As air from the surrounding environment is passed though the box, the bees sticks its proboscis out if it detects the explosive chemical vapours. This then triggers motion detectors inside the box and alerts the operator of the detection.

"Defence research agencies have taken a special interest in the technology which could potentially be used on a global scale for the detection of land mines and terrorist bomb threats. Other applications includes food quality and safety, medical diagnostic and environmental survey.

"The mobile fume cupboard supplied by Air Science Technologies will help bees to be trained ‘on-the-fly’, regardless of environment or location, providing a safe containment area to protect researchers from the chemicals and also preventing unwanted outside odours from contaminating the bees airflow."