All in all honey bees have a kind of easy life. Wake up in the morning, don your honey bee yellow and black outfit, head out into the world, find a few flowers and stuff, suck out whatever it is those little critters suck out of flowers, usually pollen, or in the case of honey bees, honey I would assume, and then go back home and deposit your harvest in a honeycomb. My guess anyhow.
Seeing that we’re talking about “honeybees” then it would be safe to assume that honeybees would be sucking out honey in deference to sucking out pollen…..as sucking goes.
But, now honeybees have been classified as A-1 by the Selective Service System. Yep, honeybees are now part of the war effort against land mines. At least in Croatia, where apparently there are a lot of left over land mines from past conflicts in that country.
And, considering it’s quite a dangerous job for anyone, (humans) to take on the task of locating those land mines, as well as having to dress up in yellow and black outfits, which can be quite embarrassing, the Croatian government has come up with a new plan to enlist honeybees who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their country in order to detect those land mines.
The new land mine detection method was created in Croatia at the University of Zagreb. And because many of their citizens are exposed to serious risks from land mines along with their long tradition of keeping bees and making honey, and also doing what the birds and bees do on occasion, they figured, “Hey, what the hell, lets use honeybees to find land mines.” Makes complete sense to me.
So how exactly do ya train a honeybee to find a land mine? My guess would have been to fling a honeybee on the ground as you’re walking along a suspected land mine area and if there’s an explosion, then if would be obvious that there was a land mine present.
But, as usual I was wrong. They do not fling honeybees to the ground to detect land mines. Which is why I’m not a scientist living in Croatia.
This is how its done. According to this BBC article, Professor Nikola Kezic, (there’s ALWAYS a professor involved in these stories) said that they set a tent up in which a bee hive is placed along a suspected land mine area with a number of places for the bee to find food. The key here is in the feeding locations. Only a number of specific places for the bee to find food are set up.
Mostly where they suspect there might be land mines. Or, a sign that says, “Diner.” Obviously not good for the bee if he or she is hungry.
These selected locations have soil surrounding them that contains the explosive material found in land mines. Eventually the bees associate the smell of explosives to food. Which is why they enlisted the use of bees rather than humans in the first place. Because no human with half a brain is gonna associate the smell of explosives with food. Unless they’re really stupid. Or eat a lot of black pepper.
Then again, I do read the “Beetle Bailey” comic strip and that guy “Zero” might be a candidate for volunteering to help with this bee mine detection project.
However, bees aren’t the only stupid ones involved in this experiment. Besides “Zero” that is.
(bring in the rats)
Yes, in Africa, a four pound rat named Henrietta, (my apologies to anyone named Henrietta) is presently in training to detect land mines. Personally, if I lived in Africa I’d be hiring a four pound cat to track down that four pound rat lest it become frustrated with searching for land mines, gets a bit hungry, and starts seeking out things to eat…..like humans. Screw the land mines….I’m outta here!
Anyhow, when Henrietta finds a land mine its, “KABOOM!!!!” Rat parts everywhere!
No, only kidding. When she finds a land mine she begins to dig in the ground and when this happens her trainer uses a clicker to tell her that she was a good rat and she then goes over to her trainer to receive a food reward. Providing she hasn’t triggered off that land mine and becomes a food reward for other animals.
The man behind the rat training program, (I just love typing these weird names) is a Belgian by the name of Bart Simpson……um…no….sorry, got that wrong, his name is Bart Weetjens. Yah!
When he spoke to a reporter from the “Seattle Times” he said of the rats, “They are very keen to work, as long as they get food.” Hey, no kidding Bart. Guess what they’d be gnawing on if ya didn’t give em any food…..YOU!
He went on to say, “The training is very simple. We associate a food reward with a target scent.” Which is similar to what those professors are using to train those honeybees.
My thinking is that if they’re ever out there in the field with either the bees or that freakin’ giant four pound rat and they ever run out of food, boy are they gonna be screwed….big time.
Bart also said that they tried with no success to use dogs, (German Shepherds) to seek out land mines, but even though the dogs worked out quite well, they were susceptible to “tropical diseases” and on occasion, one would trigger a mine. Not very good for the dog I might add.
HEY! If ya blow up a damn bee or rat who the hell is gonna give a, in this instance, rats ass? But dogs…geesh, everybody loves dogs.
Apparently rats are working out quite well. Because even though they weigh four pounds they were not heavy enough to set off the land mines and they are extremely resilient to diseases. Which is why you never encounter any rats in a hospital laying in a bed next to you.
So, in conclusion, we can all be thankful that bees and rats are now being drafted to serve their countries.
However, a little tip for those scientists and professors in Croatia and Africa who may be a bit squeamish about dealing with bees and rats. You guys know what can happen when you screw around with Mother Nature. Just think……GIANT ANACONDAS!!!!”
So my tip. Here in the Northeast we have an invasive vine, (affectionately called the “Mile-A-Minute” vine) that grows 6 inches per minute and strangles any tree or shrub in its way. Come to think of it, I haven’t seen my next door neighbor in a few weeks. Hmmm,?
It’s a resilient plant, doesn’t need to be fed, and will not sting or bite you. It just loves to crawl all over the place in leaps and bounds.
I’d be happy to send you some vines so that you can simply plant them in an area where you think there are land mines. They’ll multiply and crawl all over the place and if they see a land mine they’ll engulf it, as they do trees and other vines, and BOOM!….. both the land mine and that stinkin’ vine are kaput. How simple is THAT! Mines and vines eliminated in one fell swoop. Or, as we like to say, “two birds with one mine…um, stone.”
Any honeybees or giant rats reading today’s blog…..you can thank me later.
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