Bees are being trained to sniff out drugs and explosives to aid police and could one day replace sniffer dogs
Experts reckon the insects may one day replace dogs in the hunt for illicit items because they are cheaper and quicker to train.
And they could be ready to search for landmines in five years.
Dr Ross Gillanders, a researcher at the University of St Andrews, has been training them in a Nato-funded project.
Sugar water is used to teach the bees so they treat the odour of explosives as if it is nectar.
They can detect it from a few hundred yards but that could eventually become a mile.
As soon as they are sent out of the hive they settle almost instantly on the spot where the bomb is hidden.
Physicist Dr Gillanders explained: “Bees have an advantage in that they cannot accidentally set off landmines and can cover ground not readily accessible for dogs.”
rking with the bees is that they can be unpredictable. During one field trial he was left with 20 stings on an ankle that was not covered by his beekeeping suit.
He said: “They seemed to know where to go for.
“It was the only part that was exposed.”