Researchers decipher the buzzing of bees

From Researchers Decipher The Buzzing Of Bees.

Everyone has heard of the canary in the coal mine, which sways or drops dead in the presence of poisonous gas, alerting miners to get out. Now a University of Montana research team has learned to understand the collective buzzing of bees in their hives, which can provide a similar biological alert system.

But bees evidently provide a lot more information than canaries. The researchers, who work for a UM spin-off technology company called Bee Alert Technology Inc., have found that the insects buzz differently when exposed to various poisonous chemicals.

"We found bees respond within 30 seconds or less to the presence of a toxic chemical," said Research Professor Jerry Bromenshenk. "The military is interested in that for countering terrorism. But the real surprise was that the sounds bees produce can actually tell what chemical is hitting them." [continue]