Researchers in Croatia Training Honeybees to Find Landmines

Landmines litter areas of Croatia and other parts of the world. Honeybees are being trained to sniff them out.
Sign warns of landmines that litter areas of Croatia. Honeybees are being trained to sniff them out. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Honeybees are getting sweeter: Even nearly two decades after the end of the Balkan wars, Croatia faces a horrible challenge of unexploded and unmarked landmines. Furthering earlier research, Croatian scientists are training honeybees to sniff out unexploded landmines. Since the end of the war, 316 people, including 66 de-miners, have been killed by landmines in Croatia.

Across the world, landmines are sought using mine-sniffing dogs and rats, but their weight can sometimes trigger the mine. Now researchers in Croatia are training honeybees to fly to landmines and identify their locations by associating the smell of TNT from landmines with their food. Initial trials show the trained bees preferring the TNT-scented food to their unadulterated food.

American researchers have also investigated honeybee bomb sniffers, but eliminated TNT as their food tag because its smell disappears too quickly. To read more about the Croatian research, go to Honeybees trained in Croatia to find land mines.

Bee keeper displays honeybees training to search for mines, with two unfused antitank mines in the foreground.
US researchers investigate mine sniffing in honeybees. In the foreground are two unfused antitank mines. (Photo by Randy Montoya)

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Kay works with engineers, scientists, and programmers as a writer and editor, which she prefers over working with muggles. When sufficiently caffeinated, she geeks out over words, communication, biology, needlework, and recreational sports. And, of course, chocolate. Her children _may_ have been exposed to D&D at a too-young age, but they continue to play happily to this day.