türkçe links to original Turkish article
(Milliyet Newspaper, 26 May 2016)
Sniffers: 'out' and 'in'?
Researchers at Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara
have developed a project for the use of honey bees in detecting
narcotics and explosives. Babür Erdem, Okan Can Arslan and Tuğrul
Akpolat are continuing their efforts at the METU Teknokent campus,
and are taking advantage of support from the Indivıdual Young
Enterprise Program of TÜBİTAK (Turkey's national science
The project aims to show that honey bees are a thousand times more
sensitive to discriminating the scent of narcotics and explosives than
existing electronic detectors. And while it takes six months to train
a dog for this work, bees are ready in 15-30 minutes. This bee
training can easily be reduced to less than 5 minutes.
Honey bees have an exceptional ability to identify scents. So they
are trained using 'Pavlov' conditioning technique. Bee keepers
condition the honey bees to the scents of explosives and narcotics
at a central facility. When bees are hungry and touch food with
either their antenna or feet, they reflexively stick out their tongues.
During 'Pavlov' conditioning, the honey bees' antennae touch sugar
at the same time the scent of the target material - narcotics or
explosives - is introduced, to create a dependency for the bee between
the two. When training is completed the bees only stick out their
tongues when exposed to the scent of the target material.
TSA could use some bee-hind the scenes help.