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Security Buzz

The U.S. government trains bees to detect explosives


The next time there's a bomb scare, a swarm of bees might come to
the rescue. Military scientists at the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project
based in Los Alamos, New Mexico, have trained honeybees to alert
authorities about explosives. The scientists hope bomb-sniffing bees
will protect U.S. troops abroad and also be useful for homeland
security.
"Bees are smelling machines," Tim Haarmann, a scientist with the
project, told WR News. In nature, bees use their sense of smell to
communicate with one another and to find nectar, the sweet liquid
from flowers. Now trained bees are using that skill to detect the odor
of dynamite and other explosives.
The scientists let the bees smell sugar water and explosives at the
same time. A bee naturally reacts to the smell of sugar water by
sticking out its proboscis (pruh-BAH-sis), or the tube it uses to feed
on nectar. Then the scientists take away the sugar water, and the bees
have the same reaction when they smell just the explosives.
The trained bees are put in tiny harnesses and placed in a box.
Officials carry that box near the object they want to test. If the bees
stick out their proboscises, officials know that a bomb is nearby. The
bees can detect a car bomb 10 feet away! Haarmann says it takes one
morning to train a hive of bees. The bees are set free, unharmed, after
two days of bomb sniffing.

2012 ReadWorks , Inc. All rights reserved.


Article: Copyright 2007 Weekly Reader Corporation. All rights reserved.
Weekly Reader is a registered trademark of Weekly Reader Corporation.
Used by permission.

Name:

_____________ Date: _______________________

1. What are the trained honeybees outfitted with?


A
B
C
D

portable radios
tiny harnesses
little helmets
safety vests

2. The passage describes how the scientists are training honeybees to solve a problem.
What problem are they trying to solve?
A
B
C
D

Many U.S. farmers cant make enough honey.


U.S. troops need help detecting explosives.
Military scientists need to find a way to make sugar.
U.S. soldiers are running out of dynamite and bombs.

3. After reading the passage, what can you conclude about honeybees?
A
B
C
D

They
They
They
They

really enjoy helping people.


have a great sense of smell.
dont like the taste of sugar.
can be trained to do anything.

4. Read this sentence from the passage: The bees can detect a car bomb 10 feet
away!
In this sentence, the word detect means
A
B
C
D

teach
cover
break
find

5. Which statement best describes the main idea of this passage?


A
B
C
D

Bees use their sense of smell to communicate with one another.


Some military scientists work at the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project.
The U.S. government trained honeybees to detect explosives.
All honeybees naturally react to the smell of sugar water.

2012 ReadWorks , Inc. All rights reserved.

6. What is nectar?
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

7. After reading the passage, what can you conclude about how honeybees learn? Please
give an example from the text to support your answer.
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

8. The question below is an incomplete sentence. Choose the word that best completes
the sentence.
A honeybee sticks out its proboscis _________ it feeds on nectar.
A
B
C
D

however
when
but
finally

2012 ReadWorks , Inc. All rights reserved.

9. Answer the following questions based on the sentence below.


Military scientists in Los Alamos, New Mexico are training honeybees by placing them in
a box and carrying that box near the object they want to test.
Who? _________________________________________________________________

Where? ________________________________________________________________

(are doing) What? _______________________________________________________

How? by placing them in a box and carrying that box near the object they want to test

10. Vocabulary Word: proboscis: the tube a honeybee uses to feed on nectar.
Use the vocabulary word in a sentence: ______________________________________
______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

2012 ReadWorks , Inc. All rights reserved.