How Bees Are Saving Elephants

It's been long since said that elephants are scared of mice, but there is something else elephants have been found to be scared of  - bees. And it is the elephants' fear of bees which is helping to save the elephant population.

Elephants are slowly recovering after a decimation in the 1980’s, but at the same time the human population has also increased.  With more elephants in the wild again they are starting to migrate back to where they have always lived.  But  now there are houses, schools, farms, and other developments cutting off their routes. 

Crop raiding elephants can devastate farms as an elephant can eat over 300kg of vegetation a day. If crops are eaten by elephants it creates food insecurity within villages and can even cause the death of people if they are in the elephants' way.  This can lead to a negative attitude towards elephants.  Villages will resort to harmful tactics to keep the elephants out of their crops. The human elephant conflict poses a major threat to the well being of both humans and animals.

But a simple solution may just help save the elephants.  Just another important thing our bee friends are doing.   Organisations are creating beehive fences around farms, to keep the elephants out.

A beehive fence is a beehive (hung about chest height) from fence posts which are connected to other fence posts by wire.  They are placed around a farm perimeter about every 10 meters.  When an elephant avoids the hive but trips the wire it rocks the beehive, which causes the bees to come out and investigate, and then this scares the elephants.  Elephants then communicate the presence of the bees to other elephants and they will tend to avoid the area.

Beehive fences can provide many benefits to a community.  It offers a humane way to deter elephants from farms, allowing farmers to help to increase crop yields and sell honey to increase their income. The beehive fence was invented by Lucy King, a Save the Elephants worker, who noticed that elephants were avoiding acacia trees which had bee colonies in them. The beehive fence approach has been largely successful at reducing the conflict between humans and elephants by 85%.