Honeybees trained in Croatia to find land mines
2013-05-23 0:00

By Darko Bandic | Phys.Org


Mirjana Filipovic is still haunted by the land mine blast that killed her boyfriend and blew off her left leg while on a fishing trip nearly a decade ago. It happened in a field that was supposedly de-mined.

Now, unlikely heroes may be coming to the rescue to prevent similar tragedies: sugar-craving honeybees. Croatian researchers are training them to find unexploded mines littering their country and the rest of the Balkans.

When Croatia joins the European Union on July 1, in addition to the beauty of its aquamarine Adriatic sea, deep blue mountain lakes and lush green forests, it will also bring numerous un-cleared minefields to the bloc’s territory. About 750 square kilometers (466 square miles) are still suspected to be filled with mines from the Balkan wars in the 1990s.

Nikola Kezic, an expert on the behavior of honeybees, sat quietly together with a group of young researchers on a recent day in a large net tent filled with the buzzing insects on a grass field lined with acacia trees. The professor at Zagreb University outlined the idea for the experiment: Bees have a perfect sense of smell that can quickly detect the scent of the explosives. They are being trained to identify their food with the scent of TNT.

"Our basic conclusion is that the bees can clearly detect this target, and we are very satisfied," said Kezic, who leads a part of a larger multimillion-euro program, called "Tiramisu," sponsored by the EU to detect land mines on the continent.


Several feeding points were set up on the ground around the tent, but only a few have TNT particles in them. The method of training the bees by authenticating the scent of explosives with the food they eat appears to work: bees gather mainly at the pots containing a sugar solution mixed with TNT, and not the ones that have a different smell.

Kezic said the feeding points containing the TNT traces offer "a sugar solution as a reward, so they can find the food in the middle."

"It is not a problem for a bee to learn the smell of an explosive, which it can then search," Kezic said. "You can train a bee, but training their colony of thousands becomes a problem."


Ante Ivanda, a de-miner, searches for land mines in Petrinja, central Croatia, Friday, May 17, 2013. Croatian researches, working on a unique method to find unexploded mines that are littering their country and the rest of the Balkans, are confident they can use bees for detecting land mines.

Croatian officials estimate that since the beginning of the Balkan wars in 1991, about 2,500 people have died from land mine explosions. During the four-year war, around 90,000 land mines were placed across the entire country, mostly at random and without any plan or existing maps.

Dijana Plestina, the head of the Croatian government’s de-mining bureau, said the suspected devices represent a large obstacle for the country’s population and industry, including agriculture and tourism. In the nearly two decades since the end of the war, land mines have taken the lives of 316 people, including 66 de-miners, she said.

"While this exists, we are living in a kind of terror, at least for the people who are living in areas suspected to have mines," she said. "And of course, that is unacceptable. We will not be a country in peace until this problem is solved."

In 2004, Filipovic and her boyfriend were on a fishing trip that took them to a river between Croatia and Bosnia.

"As we were returning hand-in-hand, my boyfriend stepped on a mine," the 41-year-old Filipovic said. "It was an awful, deafening explosion ... thousands of shrapnel parts went flying, hundreds ending up in my body. He was found dead several meters away, while I remained in a pool of blood sitting on the ground."

She sued the Croatian government, saying the area wasn’t clearly marked as a former minefield.

"At first I thought I was asleep," she recalled. "Then I heard the voice of my father. I opened my eyes, and saw nothing. I thought I lost my eyes."

[...]


Read the full article at: phys.org




Related Articles
Bioelectromagnetics: Bees & Flowers Communicate Using Electrical Fields, Scientists Find
Mystery Malady Kills More Bees - Will We Rebuild With Robots?
Pesticide makes bees forget the scent for food, new study finds
http://redicecreations.com/article.php?id=24397
Can this giant ball rid the world of landmines?
Jesus’ baptism site still surrounded by landmines months before opening
’My rosary saved me’: Young soldier cheats death after standing on landmine and being shot
Croatia is training honeybees to locate landmines


Latest News from our Front Page

Dead LA man who had 1,200 guns, underwater car identified; believed to be 'part alien' secret government worker
2015-07-27 23:42
The mystery behind a Los Angeles gun fanatic found decomposing in a car last week has deepened as his fiancée's family said he was an alien-hybrid secretly working for the government. The bizarre statement came Wednesday as the betrothed woman's lawyer identified the dead man as Jeffrey Alan Lash — almost one week after he was discovered rotting in his car ...
Britain Under Siege: Hundreds of Illegals Storm Eurotunnel Every Night
2015-07-27 22:45
The volume of illegals trying to gain access to the United Kingdom via the railway tunnel beneath the English Channel is now so great, hundreds storm the French terminal every night. Hoping to stow away on-board lorries or to ‘train surf’ to England, the migrants – of which there are an estimated 5,000 in the town of Calais at any one ...
Detroit's black rape gangs target couples
2015-07-27 22:53
Victims forced into alleys, men made to watch sex assault on female companions In a developing story, a gang of rapists in Detroit is terrorizing citizens in the crime-ridden city. Detroit police are looking for as many as six suspects after two rape and robbery incidents occurred on Thursday night within hours of each other. The same group may be responsible ...
Satanic statue unveiled in Detroit
2015-07-27 21:13
Christians protest after the Satanic Temple unveils bronze Baphomet statue featuring a human body, goat’s head and wings. Several hundred people have attended a Mass at a US Catholic church to protest against an eight and a half-foot (2.6-metre)-tall bronze statue of Satan that hundreds of people also lined up to see. The Satanic Temple had said it would unveil the ...
India's prime minister endorses call for Britain to pay reparations for colonial rule
2015-07-27 21:34
Narendra Modi supports impassioned Shashi Tharoor’s call for colonial ruler Britain to make reparations to India India’s prime minister has praised an opposition MP who made an impassioned appeal for Britain to pay reparations for 200 years of colonial rule. Narendra Modi said Shashi Tharoor’s speech at the Oxford Union, which was posted online last week, “reflected the feelings of patriotic ...
More News »