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Can Honey Bees Replace Dogs in Law Enforcement?

June 26, 2015

Honey Bees

I don’t know about you, but seeing that big German shepherd on the leash of an officer somehow makes me feel a little better when I am attending an event. Just why does the presence of an animal make many of us feel better and secure so often? Well, that may not be something you see very often in the future when it comes to drug-sniffing dogs.

According to an article on Metro.Co.Uk, more and more drug-sniffing dogs are going into retirement because they are no longer cost effective for law enforcement. Dogs do not have the ability to determine amounts nor are they able to differentiate between the different types of illegal substances. So, what can law enforcement do that will be more effective both in terms of searching and financially?

Apparently, the honey bee could be the answer. The University of Cologne recently conducted research showing that honey bees can differentiate between narcotics. Not only that, but the honey bees are also capable of using a different “alert” to show exactly what the substance detected is.

This could be huge for law enforcement agencies across the globe for a couple of reasons. First, bees are much less costly to maintain and breed than dogs. There is both a lot of time and money invested in every dog that serves in both military and law enforcement service. Second, dogs will sometimes give false positives simply to please their master. In most cases, the dogs live with their handler full-time, so they want to make their master happy and a detection, at least in the eyes of the dog, is the way to do that. The “bonding” that happens between a dog handler does not happen between beekeeper and honey bee, so this will not be an issue.

Is this something we will see in the very near future? It is hard to imagine a swarm of bees at the airport checking bags, but who knows. Something such as this may be much more likely in the case of actual raids, but we will keep our eyes on this story to see how it develops. Just can’t seem to shake the image of a bee with a tiny little badge making a drug bust!

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