Honey Bees Can Recognize You!

Common honey bees can be trained to recognize individual people, according to a paper published by Dr. Adrian Dyer in the Journal of Experimental Biology.


(Common honey bee)

The training consisted of showing the bees a series of black-and-white pictures of human faces. The bees got tasty or sour rewards, depending on their performance. The face series is exactly the same one used by psychologists to test human memory.

How do bees do it? Bee brains are just one-twenty thousandth the size of a human brain. The experiment implies that there is a simpler solution to the problem of face recognition than has been discovered so far by biometric security researchers.

I'm getting this mental picture of a swarm of friendly, well-trained honey bees humming through an airport terminal, looking for known terrorists. And they even have a way to incapacitate their prey! On the other hand, since stinging kills the bee, you'd be losing highly trained assets...

In his chilling novel The Green Brain, Frank Herbert writes about insects evolving to the point where particular insects or hives of insects can indeed recognize individual human beings.

For more experimental uses of insects, see the Cockroach-controlled mobile robot and Bees may be keys to cooperative robots. Read more about how Honey bees recognize people.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/21/2005)

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Index of related articles:

Biometric security overview
Biometrics Glossary
Characteristics of successful biometric identification methods
Biometric identification systems
Biometric technology on the leading edge
Biometric identification - advantages
Biometric security and business ethics
Biometric authentication: what method works best?
Iris Recognition
Iris Scan

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