Wednesday Bee Blogging

Having discussed the issue with a number of people I’m now persuaded that urban beekeeping poses no risk to innocent neighborhoods and thus withdraw all doubts about the wisdom of introducing honeybees to my neighborhood.

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman reports that bee stings could revolutionize bomb detection:

The science behind the Strano’s sensor is complex. But here’s the simplest way of breaking it down. Put bee venom on a carbon rod and you’ve got yourself a sensor.

Believe it or not, bees are powerful bomb sleuths. That’s why Darpa wanted to enlist them to find explosives, landmines and “odors of interest” in the early 2000s. As it turns out, inside of every bee sting is a small fragment of a protein called a peptide that has an uncanny property.


“When it wraps around a small wire, that allows it to recognize ‘nitro-aromatics’,” Strano explains, the chemical class of explosives like TNT. That wire is a carbon nanotube, a mere one atom thick.

Of course I wonder if better security technology was developed would we actually use it. I’m never sure how much intrusive security is driven by terrorism paranoia and to what extent it’s just a kind of makework jobs program.