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Training and deployment of honeybees to detect explosives and other agents of harm
Author(s): Philip J. Rodacy; Susan Bender; Jerry Bromenshenk; Colin Henderson; Gary Bender
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Paper Abstract

Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) has been collaborating with the University of Montana's (UM) engineered honeybee colony research under DARPA's Controlled Biological and Biomimetric Systems (CBBS) program. Prior work has shown that the monitoring of contaminants that are returned to a hive by honeybees (Apis mellifera) provides a rapid, inexpensive method to assess chemical distributions and environmental impacts. Members from a single colony make many tens of thousands of foraging trips per day over areas as large as 2 km2. During these foraging trips, the insects are in direct contact with most environmental media (air, water, plants, and soil) and, in the process, encounter contaminants in gaseous, liquid and particulate form. These contaminants are carried back to the hive where analysis can be conveniently conducted. Three decades of work by UM and other investigators has demonstrated that honeybees can effectively and rapidly screen large areas for the presence of a wide array of chemical contaminants and for the effects of exposures to these chemicals. Recently, UM has been exploring how bee-based environmental measurements can be used to quantify risks to humans or ecosystems. The current DARPA program extends this work to the training of honeybees to actively search for contaminants such as the explosive residue being released by buried landmines. UM developed the methods to train bees to detect explosives and chemical agent surrogates. Sandia provided the explosives expertise, test facilities, electronics support, and state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation. We will present an overview of the training procedures, test parameters employed, and a summary of the results of field trials that were performed in Montana and at DARPA field trials in San Antonio, TX. Data showing the detection limits of the insects will be included.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 August 2002
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 4742, Detection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets VII, (13 August 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.479119
Show Author Affiliations
Philip J. Rodacy, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Susan Bender, Sandia National Labs. (United States)
Jerry Bromenshenk, Univ. of Montana (United States)
Colin Henderson, Univ. of Montana (United States)
Gary Bender, Technadyne Engineering Consultants, Inc. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4742:
Detection and Remediation Technologies for Mines and Minelike Targets VII
J. Thomas Broach; Russell S Harmon; Gerald J. Dobeck, Editor(s)

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