By Amaechi Idumuebor (AGENDAWATCHDOG) – Bees have an excellent sense of smell to detect chemicals, such as pheromones, and Dutch scientists are using their natural power to identify samples infected with coronavirus.
Scientists in the bio-veterinary research laboratory at Wageningen University trained the insects by giving them sugary water after as a reward for spotting the virus in samples and no reward after being shown a non-infected sample.
After numerous tests, the bees were able to spontaneously extend their tongues to receive a reward when presented with an infected sample, said Wim van der Poel, a professor of virology who took part in the project.
The team says that a trained bee is capable of detecting an infected sample in just a few seconds, which drastically reduces wait times of current methods.
‘We collect normal honeybees from a beekeeper and we put the bees in harnesses,’ he said. ‘Right after presenting a positive sample we also present them with sugar water. And what the bees do is they extend their proboscis to take the sugar water.’
Researchers used the Pavlovian condition method to train the bees, which is a learning process through association.