Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It's better to bee safe than to bee sorry. That's the attitude of a group of Croatian researchers who are training honeybees to detect the thousands of buried land mines hidden all over the country during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.
Like dogs and rats, bees have a keen sense of smell that can be used to detect the TNT in land mines. But unlike canines and rodents, honeybees don't weigh enough to accidentally set off the land mines.
Professor Nikola Kezic of Zagreb University is in charge of the mine detection project - dubbed Operation Tiramisu. He explained to Sky News how the honeybees are able to detect the mines:
"This scent, it's coming from the TNT. In the centre of this scent, we put the reward.
"We put sugar solution as a reward to condition the bees that they can find food just in the middle of (the) smell of TNT scent."
The Associated Press reports that since 1991, at least 2,500 people have been killed by land mines. Croatian officials tell the A.P. that roughly 90,000 land mines were buried throughout Croatia during the wars, and that there are no maps or written records to help figure out where they are.