Scientists have discovered that honey bees, Apis mellifera, have an extraordinary talent. Using their superior sense of smell, even more sensitive than that of a dog, bees can be trained to detect specific chemical odors. Those odors include biomarkers associated with lung, skin, and pancreatic cancer, as well as tuberculosis.
A Portuguese designer, Susan Soares, took that knowledge and developed a device that can utilize trained bees to detect serious diseases.
Bees are simply placed in the glass chamber and the patient simply exhales into it. The bees fly into a smaller, secondary chamber if they detect any cancer.
Bees don’t always live terribly long lives, but this method is still effective because bees can be trained in just 10 minutes by using Pavolv’s reflex, which connects certain odors with a food reward.
When bees are exposed to that odor, they are fed sugar and water as a reward. Once taught, the bees remember for the entirety of their six-week-long lives.
Early diagnosis is key for treating these deadly diseases, and fortunately, bees can help. Just one more reason to do everything we can to save the bees.