Dutch researchers have taught bees to smell coronavirus (no, really)

Watch out medical students, these buzzy buddies could be pinching your spot. It’s a good thing that more bees have been spotted in the Netherlands this year, as they could be your new huisarts. It’s thought they could be used to diagnose coronavirus.

It turns out that these fuzzy insects can do a lot more than just making honey. Researchers at Wageningen University have trained bees to stick out their tongue when they smell the coronavirus. (Wat luek!) As cute as this may sound, this could be instrumental to diagnosing coronavirus in poor countries, as bees are worldwide baby. 🐝

The science of smell

Bees have an incredible sense of smell, being able to detect a flower from miles away. The research involved training 150 bees to detect the coronavirus from a patient’s swab.

Researchers did this by rewarding the bees with a drop of sugar water anytime they were exposed to the scent of an infected sample. Eventually, the bees learned to stick out their tongues (expecting sugar water) whenever they could smell the coronavirus on a swab.

READ MORE | Bee-ing happy: how the Netherlands keeps its buzz

Researchers tell RTL Nieuws that this has “the potential to be very reliable” as it works with up to five bees correctly identifying coronavirus per infected swab. The researchers stress that they cannot give exact success rates for this study yet.

What do you think of bees being our new medical champions? Let us know in the comments!

Feature Image: Pixabay/Pexels

Chloe Lovatt 🇬🇧http://globeshuffler.wordpress.com
A British native, Chloe has a love for other languages and cultures, having lived in Spain before moving to the Netherlands. She is keen to explore the Dutch landscape, cultural spots and — the most important — food! After being here for a few months she already has developed a mild addiction to kibbeling.


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