Taking security lessons from Mother Nature

There are lots of ways to keep out unwanted intruders — a good lock being among the best options.

But what do you do when that evades your technological capabilities? You get creative, that’s what.

According to a story we ran on page 52 of the Feb. 11 paper by freelancer Margaret Evans, Asian honeybees don’t use barricades or brawn to keep the Asian giant hornet, also known as the murder hornet, out of their hives. Instead, they gather up bits of animal feces and stick these dots around the outside of the entrances to their hives.

The University of Guelph researchers who studied this phenomenon in Vietnam aren’t exactly sure why this works, but they think it might have something to do with the odour. Either the smell from those icky dots repels the hornets or masks the smell of the bees inside the hives.

Either way, it’s as ingenious a solution as you’ll ever find in nature.

But are there lessons from this that we can put to use in our own lives? If we use our imagination, what practical applications can we steal from the Asian honeybee that can be put to work on the 21st century Prairies?

Wildlife predation is a major security issue on western Canadian farms, whether it be coyotes attacking livestock or deer eating feed supplies. Could a giant automatic air freshener dispenser emitting regular puffs of something smelly do the trick?

Perhaps, but it might take years of research to determine what odour would best work to keep hungry predators away from our animals and crops. Besides, what if the effective odour is also obnoxious to humans? That could be a problem.

Then there are the two-legged predators who steal from our isolated farmyards. In this case, going back to the original solution adopted by the Asian honeybees might work.

However, perhaps victims of the most serious security risk faced by modern farm families might be the biggest beneficiary of this lesson from nature. I’m talking about the refrigerator raiders.

Let’s say you’ve got a spouse who won’t keep out of the chocolate cake or the leftover pizza that’s supposed to be next day’s lunch. What do you do when reason, cajoling or outright threats won’t keep him out of the fridge?

Yep, that’s right — why not an odour that is sure to keep him away? The smell of laundry detergent, anyone?

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