A Shakespearean delight this is not. Entomological warfare involving bees it is.
Entomological warfare is biological warfare using insects to the attack the enemy. This article is limited to the use of bees.
Bees have been used as weapons of war since man’s earliest beginnings. Right up to today. Research constant and ongoing.
The cave man used bees. When the cave man had an enemy hiding in a cave, he threw a bee’s nest into the cave. His opponent quickly came out.
In 2600 B.C., a Mayan city was under siege. Soldiers within the city made sham soldiers. Mannequins. The mannequins were outfitted with clothes, war bonnets, spears and shields.
Gourds were used as heads. The gourds were filled with bees, wasps and horseflies. When the enemy was close to the embattlement, the gourds were smashed. The enemy was overcome by the bees and other stinging insects.
The Mayans also made hand grenades from beehives.
The Romans used bees as weapons of war constantly. The Romans would catapult bee hives into enemy ranks and fortifications.
Today’s Romania was once known as Dacia. Roman legions were attacking. The Dacians catapulted bee nests into the oncoming Roman legions.
A turn about. Dacia won the battle. However eventually lost the war.
The Third Crusade took place in the 12th century. King Richard utilized hives of bees against the Saracens. Catapulted.
The 13th century found Austria and Hungary at war. Both sides used bees against the other.
In the 14th century, the Moors were close to defeat by Portugal. The Portuguese army was at the walls of the city. The Moors won the battle by throwing down beehives upon the Portuguese.
At the Battle of Alba in the 18th century, the Turks were close to entering the city. Those defending the city erected barriers/walls of beehives to prevent the enemy from entering.
A sea battle was won because of bees. A small pirate vessel of only 50 men was engaged in battle with a large galley of 500 men. The pirates were losing. Some of the pirates climbed the masts and threw bee nests down upon the larger galley.
The pirates won the battle.
Honey comes into play. Honey and water are mixed to make mead. Good booze! Intoxicating. drunkenness guaranteed.
Slavic St. Olga’s son was killed by the enemy in 946 A.D. Olga set up a banquet with much mead. Then she and her guests left. The enemy believing it was victorious came to the party and meaded up. Became drunk. Olga and her supporters returned and slew them.
In 1489 A.D., the Tartars and Russians were at war. The Russians were being beaten. They made mead. Left it all over the city before fleeing. The Tartars came in and got drunk. Vomiting drunk. The Russians returned and slaughtered them.
To modern times.
The American Civil War. In the Battle of Antietam, the Confederates inadvertently laid down a barrage of cannon fire on a nearby bee farm. The 132nd Pennsylvania Infantry were routed. Not by the Confederates. By the bees.
During World War I, both sides utilized bees as weapons of war. Two ways. The first by hand throwing bee hives at enemy positions. The second, connecting bee hives to trip wires.
The Vietnamese used bee hives in substantial numbers against U.N. forces.
It should be noted at this point that Japan utilized bees as weapons in every century, including during the time of World War II.
Which brings us to today. Or, should it be called tomorrow?
Croatia was flooded with land mines during the conflicts of the 1990s. Many of those land mines lie hidden today. A constant danger to Croatians.
The Croatians soon will test whether bees can help identify the location of the land mines. Whether naturally or trained, the theory is bees flying freely will land on a trouble spot.
British scientists disagree with the Croatian approach. Their thought being the bees will forget their mission as soon as they pass the first apple tree.
Bees are a new weapon in the war on terror.
The U.S. is experimenting in training bees to sniff out explosives. A bee’s smell is as good as a dog’s. The hope is bees can then be used to uncover landmines and bomb factories.
Great Britain is far ahead in bee experimentation in the battle against terrorism.
Britain believes, as many do, that bees can be trained to smell explosives. A test is presently underway at Heathrow Airport. Bees trained to smell explosives are placed in a hand detector. Thirty six in each one.
When the detector passes something containing explosives or chemicals, the tongues of the bees shoot out. Bees have sensitive tongues.
The tongues trip an infra-red sensor. The sensor lighting is the alert/warning. Bomb disposal experts would then be called in.
Still in the testing stage in the United States is the utilization of bees to identify explosives in freight cargoes and passenger planes.
The little bee has a long history. It has been and is becoming a big player as an instrument of warfare and in the battle against terror.
In this age of nuclear weapons, planes, all kinds of guns, tanks, etc., the little bee has especially attained increased importance in the war on terror.
The bee…..An instrument of war.