You’ve heard of dogs being able to detect people infected with COVID-19 but get ready for bees that are able to do the same. The research is being done by a Dutch startup called InsectSense. If you haven’t already figured out by their name, it seems they focus on training insects to use their unique biology for whatever they can train them to do.
InsectSense teamed up with researchers from Wageningen University & Research or WUR. The team trained bees to detect COVID-19 in people. Their results show that the bees were able to extend their tongues to show that a person had COVID-19. The team told in a statement to the press that “Bees can detect volatiles with a sensitivity of parts per trillion. For example, they find a flower a few kilometers away”.
Their training method consisted of rewarding the bees with sugar water whenever they were exposed to the scent of infected samples. After training, the bees were able to associate the scent with the reward and would thus extend their tongue whenever they detected that scent. The method is strikingly similar to how dogs were trained to detect COVID-19.
This method is based on a classical method known as Pavlov’s dog. The team said that their method could train bees to detect the scent in just a few minutes and the bee could detect an infected sample within seconds. They named this method “BeeSense”. Finally a cool name for a research project.
The research was conducted with over 150 bees at the Biosafety laboratory of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research. Overall results showed very low amounts of false negatives and positives so the bees show a lot of promise. Similar researches are being conducted all over the world in hope of finding a cheap way of detecting the virus. The common PCR test is quite costly.
I don’t know if would be more scared of COVID or by the bee whose going to tell if I have COVID or not.