Sniffer honeybee detector

Sniffer honeybee detector

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Credit: LOUISE MURRAY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sniffer honeybee detector. Hand holding a cartridge containing honeybees (Apis melifera) that have been trained to detect target chemical vapours. The live honeybees are trained to detect odours such as those from explosives, drugs, food and diseases through the breath or fluids of humans. The bees are trained to associate a certain smell with a sugarwater reward. Several bees are housed within tiny cartridges which is inserted into a vapour detector device. When the bees detect a target odour they stick out their tongues (probiscises). This alerts an optical sensor. Bees are only used for a few hours at a time and are returned to their hive safely after use. Photographed in 2010 at Inscentinel Ltd, UK.

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