Detecting Explosives Using Honey Bees


Using Pavlovian training techniques, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have trained common honey bees to detect explosives used in bombs, such as TNT, C4, TATP explosives and propellants.

By looking at such attributes as protein expression, the team sought to isolate genetic and physiological differences between those bees with good olfaction and those without. They also determined how well bees could detect explosives in the presence of potentially interfering agents, such as lotions, motor oil, or insect repellant. In addition, the team studied structural units in the honey bee’s antenna and looked for biochemical and molecular mechanisms that could advance their ability to be trained and retain their training for longer periods of time.


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