Bees Trained to Smell COVID-19 Within Seconds

Bees Trained to Detect Covid-19

According to a press release from Wageningen University, scientists in the Netherlands have trained bees to detect COVID-19 using their sense of smell.

In Wageningen University’s bio-veterinary research laboratory, more than 150 bees were used in the study.

Any time the bees were exposed to the scent of a mink infected with COVID-19, the scientists gave them a treat – a sugar-water solution. The bees would not be rewarded if they were exposed to a non-infected sample (a process known as Pavlovian conditioning).

Bee is not the only animal used as such

The bees eventually learned to recognise a contaminated sample in a matter of seconds, and they would stick out their tongues like clockwork to catch the sugar water.

honey bee detect COVID-19

COVID-19 has been detected by the smell in animals for a long time, but bees aren’t the first to notice it. Dogs have also been equipped to differentiate between positive and negative COVID-19 samples from human saliva or sweat with a high degree of precision, according to researchers. In a small German study, dogs were able to correctly classify positive COVID samples 94% of the time.

Because of the coronavirus’s physiological changes, an infected person’s bodily fluids smell slightly different from a non-infected person’s.

Research Don’t think it as Alternative for PCR Unit

Animals may be the best bet for sniffing out COVID-19 cases outside the lab, but researchers aren’t positive.

“No one is claiming they can substitute a PCR unit,” said Holger Volk, a veterinary neurologist, in a statement to Nature. Lab technicians use PCR machines to process regular COVID-19 swab samples.

At the very least, such animals may aid in the detection of COVID-19 in areas or countries where high-tech laboratory equipment is scarce or unavailable.

Wageningen researchers, for example, are developing a prototype of a system that can train several bees simultaneously and then use their skills to detect coronavirus aerosols (tiny virus-laden particles) in the atmosphere.


  1. […] A recent study shows that dogs can be trained to trace more than 90 percent of COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases. Even when cases are asymptomatic dogs able to detect most of the time. Researchers hoped that this could help in replacing the requirement of quarantine of newly arrived ones. Previously we saw scientists who trained bees to detect COVID-19 using their sense of smell in seconds. […]


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