Honey bees make honey from nectar to fuel their flight – and our sweet tooth. But they also need pollen for protein. So they trap, brush and pack it into baskets on their legs to make a special food called bee bread.
Have you heard of royal jelly? It may sound like a fancy breakfast topping, but for bees, it’s what makes all the difference between a queen and a worker bee.
The process of using bees as bomb detectors begins with their collection using specialized vacuums, ensuring their safe capture. Once in the lab, their metabolic rates are slowed by placing them in a refrigerator, making them easier to manage. They’re then meticulously seated using an automated bee-loading machine to prevent any accidental harm. Training these bees hinges on the principle of association. Exposed to the scent of explosive vapors, the bees are simultaneously presented with sugary water. Over time, they begin to associate the explosive scent with the reward, extending their proboscis (tongue) in what is termed the Proboscis Extension Reflex (PER)…
It’s certainly not forgotten history that bees play a vital role in the ecosystem and are a key to pollinating plants all over the world. Lesser known is the deep history between humans and bees that is perhaps as old as any relationship between humans and other species. May 20th is World Bee Day, a day dedicated to acknowledging the role of bees and other pollinators in the global environment, and their importance to human agriculture. Learn more at un.org/en/observances/bee-day