Cancer diagnosis- from a honeybee!

beesA bee has an incredible sense of smell- better than a dog’s. And they can be trained to ‘alert’ to targeted odors in as little as 10 minutes! Training involves exposing the bees to certain odors and then rewarding them with sugar water- and the bees have the capability to remember the actions that cause sugar rewards for the rest of their lives!

Bees are placed in a glass container that patients exhale into. If the bees sense the odor that they were trained to recognize, they fly into a secondary container as an ‘alert’ to the presence of the odor.

If bees can be trained to detect cancer on the breath, and they are this easy to train to respond to specific smells, it stands to reason that bees could potentially become an invaluable medical tool for diagnostic purposes in many different applications! An interesting example of animal research at work!