Bees can be trained to sniff out explosives and cocaine, and here's something else they can be trained to do: tell apart one human face from another, according to a study published in the February issue of Journal of Experimental Biology.
The way to get a bee to choose you to be its friend: droplets of sugar water.
The study's authors placed a sugar solution in front of a picture of simple symbols arranged in a "normal" face-like image - two dots for eyes, a short vertical dash for a nose and a longer horizontal line for a mouth - then rewarded the bee for going to the photo.
Dr. Arian Dyer from Monash University, Dr. Martin Giurfa from the Universite´ de Toulouse, France, and their team conducted the study.
They then added in other dot-dash images to the mix with the symbols cramped together, others with them farther apart, and the bees continuously went to the original photo - the one most face-like and where the reward was given - even after the sugar solution was taken away.
The researchers say this proves that the bee could recognize a specific pattern and remember it as a reward source. But now they wanted to see if the insect could distinguish between more complex, more human-like faces.