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Honingbijen trainen in Australië


Anoplolepis gracilipes (A. gracilipes) belongs to the top 100 invasive pests globally and poses a great threat to the rainforests surrounding Cairns. The invasion around Cairns is being controlled, however this poses another problem of finding the remaining A. gracilipes nests. Apis mellifera could be a solution to this problem. They have been used by humankind for years as a biosensor to find all kinds of odours such as illicit drugs, explosives and other chemicals.

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Localizing A. gracilipess

The question I asked during this research is can conditioned A. mellifera detect A. gracilipes scent? This was tested by using the PER (proboscis extension reflex). A. mellifera was exposed to A. gracilipes scented sugar-water in different ways and for different durations. Once exposed they were tested by only presenting the A. gracilipes scent and either a PER was present or absent to this scent. During this research trained bees only had a 2,7% average positive PER occurrence to the A. gracilipes scent over all training methods, suggesting that bees cannot be trained to detect A. gracilipes scent. The method however was successful by also training bees to lavender which resulted in an average 40% positive PER occurrence, which was found significant over the bees trained to detect the A. gracilipes scent (P<0,0001). There is reason to believe that the scent is not specific or strong enough, for bees to be conditioned to. Pheromones might be a solution, because they are the specific scent of A. gracilipess. Analysation of the A. gracilipes pheromones using gas chemotography – mass spectrometry, to then create bioassays which can be dissolved into sugar-water could be the solution. If bees are then trained to this scent one might find more success and develop a method which could be successful in localizing not only A. gracilipess but different invasive species all over the world.

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