A Ukrainian beekeeper was saved by his bees after they defused grenades that had been left in his hives by withdrawing Russian troops.
The explosive devices had, according to images obtained by Bee News, been hidden in the hive at an apiary in a forest in the Bucha region northeast of Kyiv by Russian troops who fled when Ukrainian forces regained ground.
But the booby trap failed to explode when the beekeeper checked the hives because the bees had covered their pins with honey and propolis.
Russian Armed Forces were accused of abusing and killing more than 400 Ukrainian civilians during the occupation of Buch where the hives were located in March.
A group called Voluntary Formation of the Bucha City Territorial Community claims that demining experts managed to remove the devices thanks to the social insects’ activity first of all making them safe.
In a statement, the organisation said: “Russians wanted to take someone’s life, but Ukrainian bees saved it!
“Sappers of the Voluntary Formation of the Bucha City Territorial Community neutralised the trap that the courageous soldiers of the Soviet Army left before fleeing the region in shame.
“The invaders left two grenades one next to another, fixed inside the hive, and replaced the original pins with safety pins, and connected the lid of the hive and the grenades with thread.”
According to the organisation, the affected beekeeper had been unable to look after his apiary since spring due to the war. When he recently opened one of the hives to check on his colonies, he discovered the devices.
It added: “They wanted to cause an explosion when someone lifted the lid of the hive. But in the six months that it took for that to happen, the bees filled the igniters with honey and the pins did not pop out.”
The association also appealed to residents to call their 24/7 emergency hotline if they spot any suspicious objects in the region.
Propolis or bee glue is a resinous mixture that honeybees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with exudate gathered from tree buds or other botanical sources.
Bees use it as a sealant for unwanted open spaces or objects in their hive that they cannot otherwise remove.
Propolis helps the bees to improve the structural stability of the hive and provides improved thermal insulation.
Furthermore, its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties help to protect the colony from pathogens.
Propolis is sticky at 20 degrees centigrade and above but becomes hard and brittle at lower temperatures.
The social media community was delighted by the news.
Instagram user ‘delchuchu_’ called bees ‘truly magical’ while ‘miss.nina.h’ praised the ‘brave little bee soldiers’ for ‘doing their part.’
Netizen ‘illiakuznec’ wrote: “Glory to Ukrainian bees.”
While ‘mielestrega’ underlined that “luckily the girls did their job.”
And ‘acypriere’ commented: “It’s horrible what humans can set up to kill other humans.”