Our "sniffer bees" are honeybees trained to recognise a specific odour. They are trained using a well known Classical Pavlovian conditioning protocol - a simple association of a smell with a food reward. The insect is exposed to the odour in controlled pulses and simultaneously rewarded with sugar syrup. After three to five presentations and rewards the bee is trained. When the bee detects the odour it expects a food reward and extends its tongue (proboscis). This response is a reflex action (Proboscis extension Reflex, PER) and is not consciously controlled by the bee. A "panel" of bees can be trained in as little as a few hours to remember a particular odour for several days.
After their working shift the bees are returned to their hive where they happily live out the rest of their lives and are integrated back into the hive.
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