Honeybees Trained to Find Land Mines

Move over, dogs and rats
By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff
Posted May 19, 2013 2:51 PM CDT
Honeybees Trained to Find Land Mines
A colony of honeybees.   (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari, File)

Honeybees are better known for producing delicious condiments than saving lives, but all that could change thanks to a team of Croatian researchers, who are training them to find unexploded land mines. Bees have an excellent sense of smell, which they use to find food, so the researchers are reprogramming them to seek out explosives by adding the scent of TNT to their food supply. Unlike dogs or rats, which are also used to find mines, bees can't step on a mine and set it off with their weight, the AP reports.

Croatia is believed to have about 466 square miles of land filled with unexploded mines from the Balkan wars, and an estimated 2,500 people have since died in explosions. Once—and if—the bees are successfully trained, they will be released in areas that have already been de-mined and tracked using heat-seeking cameras. "It has been scientifically proven that there are never zero mines on a de-mined field," says one of the researchers, "and that's where bees could come in." (More Croatia stories.)

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