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Detection of Illicit Drugs by Trained Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
Illegal drugs exacerbate global social challenges such as substance addiction, mental health issues and violent crime. Police and customs officials often rely on specially-trained sniffer dogs, which act as sensitive biological detectors to find concealed illegal drugs. However, the dog “alert” is no longer sufficient evidence to allow a search without a warrant or additional probable cause because cannabis has been legalized in two US states and is decriminalized in many others. Retraining dogs to recognize a narrower spectrum of drugs is difficult and training new dogs is time consuming, yet there are no analytical devices with the portability and sensitivity necessary to detect substance-specific chemical signatures. This means there is currently no substitute for sniffer dogs. Here we describe an insect screening procedure showing that the western honeybee (Apis mellifera) can sense volatiles associated with pure samples of heroin and cocaine. We developed a portable electroantennographic device for the on-site measurement of volatile perception by these insects, and found a positive correlation between honeybee antennal responses and the concentration of specific drugs in test samples. Furthermore, we tested the ability of honeybees to learn the scent of heroin and trained them to show a reliable behavioral response in the presence of a highly-diluted scent of pure heroin. Trained honeybees could therefore be used to complement or replace the role of sniffer dogs as part of an automated drug detection system. Insects are highly sensitive to volatile compounds and provide an untapped resource for the development of biosensors. Automated conditioning as presented in this study could be developed as a platform for the practical detection of illicit drugs using insect-based sensors.
http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0128528
 

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I can think of no better way to get the public to take on a hostile and negative attitude towards honey bees. Human nature being what it is, how long do you think it would take before drug dealers and people became outraged with using honey bees for this purpose and resort to poisoning them in LARGE numbers? The police state unfortunately seems to have an answer and law for just about everything EXCEPT the inviolate law of unintended consequences.

The authors of this research may want to rethink their position and logic. :)
 

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how long do you think it would take before drug dealers and people became outraged with using honey bees for this purpose and resort to poisoning them in LARGE numbers?
Do they go out killing dogs in large numbers today ? I suspect, most keep dogs as pets, and dont make the correlation that 'all dogs are bad' just because a few have been trained to do a task.
 

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If the dog alert is not sufficient evidence to allow search and siezure, how are bees going to provide sufficient evidence? Don't they still use dogs at the boarder crossings and in international flight terminals? Do they just let the people go if a dog starts barking at their luggage?
 
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