Bees detect airborne toxins

scientists at Montana University, usa, have developed an alarm system to monitor the bee buzz to track airborne toxins and contaminants.

Bees make sounds at different frequencies depending on the environment, says Jerry Bromenshenk, the lead researcher. For example, a parasite-infested beehive produces a sound akin to a roar, and a hive without a queen bee produces a different sound.

But how does one interpret the different sounds? The alarm system, which was granted a patent in September 2007, involves a contraption with a small microphone inside the hive to pick up different sounds. The sounds are transmitted to an amplifier with another device which filters, summarizes and analyses the acoustic data.

Pre-recorded acoustical fingerprints of bee sounds are matched with the sound produced by a particular hive and a match is derived to indicate the contaminant in the air.

Bees form ideal candidates for studying airborne chemicals because they cover wide distances. Unlike chemical traps or absorbants