Scientists are now turning to bees to detect landmines in Croatian fields.
The little bugs are cheap to use and effective to clear the estimated quarter of a million mines that remain buried after the Balkan Wars, Wired reports.
Honeybees can smell odors up to 2.8 miles away and can be trained to equate the smell of explosives with sugar water. Professor Nikola Kezic has spearheaded a project funded by the European Union that uses thermal cameras to track movements of bees that have been trained to find these explosives.
Bees are a uniquely adept tool for finding mines, not only because of their powerful sense of smell, but also due to their minuscule size.
While dogs and rats have been trained to detect mines as well, they’re large enough that they run the risk of setting off the explosives while looking for them.
“It has been scientifically proven that there are never zero mines on a de-mined field, and that’s where bees could come in,” Kezic said.
Clearing the country of mines is especially important as Croatia is slated to join the EU July 1.