When you talk or think of bees when it comes to a homestead or post collapse scenario, their job as pollinators for the crops or being a food producer themselves by giving us honey is what comes to mind first for many.
But throughout history, and even today, they have been used as a way to fortify your property and protect it. Currently, they are used in a few new applications by the military for innovations in agriculture and for tiny antiterrorism agents in a branch called entomological warfare.
Honey collecting has been around quite a while, with the first honey collectors depicted on rock paintings that date them to 15,000 BC.
Collecting honey turned to cultivating honey by raising your own bees is recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics showing bees as an important food resource. Bees and their honey are mentioned in the bible and many other religious texts and in epics such as Homer’s Odyssey.
We have a great article on the uses of honey from food stuff to medicinal healing agent in pets for shock, but today to celebrate the multitalented bee for National Honey Month we will look at its diversity and some additional ways to use this producer of liquid gold for survival purposes.
Bees were used in many ways for defense, from basic strategic placement on the property or built into defense themselves, to being used as living heat seeking missiles that as anyone that has had a run in with bees knows, are hard to evade in anyway but fleeing.
Using the hives as a living barrier
In a tactic that Kenya still currently uses to curtail invasions by elephants, one way to use beehives to protect land is to hang them up and string them in a fencelike formation.
Elephants will raid crops and trample anything surrounding their target food they want. It turns out elephants will avoid bees as they get in their trunks and disrupt their equilibrium.
So Kenyans started wiring the hives on the borders of their farms and it has deterred the scavenging elephants, who consumed whole crops in one raid often stomping down housing structures in the process.
The hives were given woven roofs for sun protection and basically make a living, tactical defensive fence.
This can be utilized by homesteaders and urban farmers. Make not-so-obvious beehives to protect the borders of your farm or land by camouflaging them into the natural barriers.
Bee venom seems to affect everyone, and not many intruders or foraging animals stay the course when bees are present and the pain they can bring when disturbed.
Places to incorporate beehives can be:
- Around the garden to protect it from hungry passersby human and animals
- Near the door to dissuade solicitors or people casing the place from looking in windowsand doors
- Hang them as a barrier line to prevent intruders or hunting parties from accidentally coming onto your land and taking resources.
- Outline your homestead or secure the property to turn back predatorswith well-placed hives.
- Making Living Landmines by burying half of the hive can be a strategy for home owners.
Using the nest as an organic bomb
Besides the hive being placed strategically, the nest itself can be weaponized and has been documented in a few ways as throwing little heat seeking missiles in historic battles.
In an ancient text it describes the Mayans as making Trojan horse mannequin warriors to run off the soldiers overtaking the city in a siege. The mannequins had shields and spears and everything, but their heads were gourds were filled with bees, wasps, and hornets.
When the invading parties came into the city and shot the mannequins the little guardians were released letting the Mayans reclaim their city. This technique was also used to reclaim the city of Alba from the Turks in the 18th century.
The Romans used bees extensively in catapults and as hand thrown weapons. King Richard in the 12th century used them as cannon fodder against the Saracens.
When catapults were one of the only ways to scale the walls of a keep or a castle, we have heard of “plague dogs” being lobbed over, but there is documentation that they used bees to clear an area quick by using bee hives as a one lump of nasty living projectile that would be pretty upset when it hit.
In the 14th century the Moors and Portuguese used bees on both sides in their warfare. Back then they made woven baskets from grasses, straw, and cane called “skeps,” and when it came to war these were collected and used as weapons.
This also worked the other way, instead of pouring hot oil or tar upon forces trying to invade the castle, bee skeps were dropped upon them as living grenades.
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Books such as Robbing the Bees mentions several examples of these “bee grenades” and hurling of the skeps unto enemies, with one of the oldest references going back before the birth of Christ by about 400 years!
For modern times both sides employed bee hives to reroute out enemy troops. In the American Civil War, troops would parallel bee farms and use cannons to turn back opposing forces into waiting troops.
Hang them in strategic spots as a living bomb. When danger is near, shoot them and drop the nest onto the path of emerging raiders or hostiles. Nothing can change the odds faster than a swarm of angry bees coming after a hostile and buying you time to get gone.
Honey as a weapon
Beekeepers are aware that honey produced during certain times of the year or in certain areas that some strains of plants grow that may be poisonous when consumed by humans.
Plants such as the azalea and rhododendron have strains that contain strong alkaloids when in bloom. Usually honey collected and produced during these periods would be removed so it doesn’t contaminate the rest of the batch.
- In ancient texts it describes Roman troops from Pompeii coming upon a cache of honey and thinking it left in a hurry, they consumed it as spoils of war. Once the deliriousness set in and the vomiting began, the defending Heptakometes moved in and claimed an easy victory and defense.
- The Tiv of Nigeria uses bees coated in special poisonous dust were kept in horns and then released in the mist of warfare for a poison needle attack.
- Many survivalists say you can collect the venom of bees and make a super saturated toxin to put in the tips of arrows and defenses, for emergencies.
Because a bee’s smell has been shown to be as keen as a dog’s, training a dog takes a lot longer and is several thousand more dollars. In the USA bees are being used as explosive sniffing detectors. The US military is using bees to detect landmines and facilities that may be a manufacturer or supplier of explosives.
In Great Britain, the tests have been going on longer there and they have been using bees at airports such as the experiments conducted at Heathrow airport. The load 36 bees in hand detectors then pass that over the luggage and in personal searches.
The detectors are equipped with infrared sensors that can tell when the bee sticks out his tongue, his sign for the presence of dangerous explosives or chemicals. A bomb squad is then called in to investigate further.
Using this system, the US is employing bees for passenger plane and cargo ship inspections. This training includes finding poisonous gases and biochemical agents.
Training bees is a lot simpler than dogs too; they can be bribed with treats loaded with sugar. They expose the bee to the chemical or compound, and then follow up with a sugar loaded goody such as syrup. In less than 5 exposures the bees are said to associate the connection with the dangerous compound and the treat, classic Pavlovian response.
So the odor of the compound will elicit the bees to stick out their tongues, or proboscis, and that way the scientists or trainers can determine if the compound is there.
In this fashion, bees are being trained in other realms and applications that a sharp nose can help.
In different scientific arenas the bees are being trained to detect:
- Early detection of diseases such as dementia or TB
- Determining counterfeit products
- Spoiled food sources
- Tampered supplies
- Decaying food
- Rot and fungus in wood such as timber to prevent collapses
- Tainted water
- Contaminated soils
In many ways a home beekeeper may be able to train his bees. Imagine if you wanted to find pure water or a source of berries. You could introduce it to your bees, and then treat him a few dozen times.
Maybe use a dozen bees so you can follow them. He may buzz around then want his reward. Maybe then you can follow your little Seeing Eye dogs to new fresh resource.
Growing up in the Bluegrass State, it was a point of familial pride to be able to shoot, trap, identify plants and track animals. Summer camps helped us be well versed in camping, weapons, and survival skills from a young age. We were surrounded by such a lush environment, and we used the resources we had.
I met my soulmate in my happiest place to be- a seemingly enchanted winding trail next to a beautiful wooded glen- where I spent as much time exploring as I could during daylight hours with my trusty four-legged friends.
The bucket list includes living the days painting and writing on a fully self-sufficient homestead, off-grid with our animals and family and plenty of land for the significant other (who I think is a true artist at weapons and living that way) to shoot to his heart’s content. Naturally organic living for us and the animals is a goal.