2. Kenya: ‘Beehive fence’ can keep elephants away from crops (Spore)

| November 2, 2009

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A herd of hungry elephants can quickly destroy a farmers’ field. But these giant beasts are no match for the tiny honeybee.

Elephants are afraid of bees because they, like most of us, they don’t like being stung. Researchers from the UK’s Oxford University want to harness this fear to help keep elephants away from crops. Their latest development is a beehive fence. They worked with a community in Kenya’s Rift Valley province to test the idea.

A beehive fence is made with simple beehives. The hives are strung on fencing wire which is then attached to poles. If an elephant tries to break through the fence, it will disturb the hives. The hives swing violently, causing elephants to fear a bee attack.

Preliminary test results are promising. Fields protected by the beehive fence were much less likely to be attacked by elephants. Many community members expressed interest in building their own beehive fence. They look forward not only to controlling elephants – but also producing honey.

-The Elephants and Bees Research website describes efforts to learn how to use bees to manage elephants: http://www.elephantsandbees.com/Lucy_King/Welcome.html
-To read a scientific journal article on the beehive fence pilot project, go to this website, and click on the photo of a farmer: http://www.elephantsandbees.com/Lucy_King/Media_%26_Publications.html