Beehive fences stop elephant raids on farmers’ crops in Kenya

Innovative beehive fences have helped a community in Kenya to successfully protect crops from elephants, according to research. Scientists found the hives to be a very effective barrier; elephants turned away from them in 97% of their attempted raids. The hives’ honey also produced additional profits for farmers.

Over the past 20 years, elephant numbers in Kenya have grown to around 7,500 and the population boost is widely heralded as a conservation success story. However, conflict between elephants and humans, especially farmers, is an ongoing problem.

Elephants frequently “raid” farms searching for food such as ripe tomatoes, potatoes and maize. To protect their livelihoods, some farmers have resorted to extreme measures including poisoning and shooting elephants…

Previous research into natural deterrents showed that elephants avoided African honey bees

“Finding a way to use live beehives was the next logical step in finding a socially and ecologically sensitive way of taking advantage of elephants’ natural avoidance behaviour to bees to protect farmers’ crops,” said Dr Lucy King, the University of Oxford biologist who led the study…

Bees cannot sting through elephant hide, but they can and do sting around elephants’ eyes and inside trunks…

In 32 attempted raids over three crop seasons, only one bull elephant managed to penetrate the novel defences…

The team created a boundaries for 17 farms, incorporating 170 beehives into 1,700m of fencing.

The conservationists who devised and tested the scheme now hope to roll similar systems throughout Kenya. I hate the silly-ass phrase; but, it really is a win-win situation for the farmers and the elephants.

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