Gardening in the western world involves taking measures against certain pests – such as rabbits, deer, or beetles – nibbling on crops. But we don’t have to worry about elephants merrily trampling our carefully-tended produce. But certain villages in Africa are faced with this dilemma every day. One environmentally friendly (and “elephant friendly”) solution is to install beehive fences to deter the majestic beasts from wandering inside. It turns out the old stereotype of elephants being afraid of tiny creatures is true – and it’s a profitable trick for farmers.
Rural areas are especially affected by elephant invasions, as their space for crops is already limited. The presence of bees scares elephants off due to the understandably painful experiences of being stung inside their trunks. When an elephant trips a wire connecting the hives, the hives begin to swing and the disturbed bees come pouring out, sending elephants safely away. Villagers have happily reported seeing elephant tracks leading up to and doubling back from the fences. In fact, most areas have an 80 percent success rate with the fences in place.
The Elephants and Bees organization has assisted villagers in eastern Africa with building the hives using locally-sourced materials. They even offer an online guide to building the fences. Costs can vary between $150 and $1500 per 100 meters of fencing, depending on the type of hives used. Having beehives so close by also offers the locals opportunities to profit from “elephant friendly” honey. The entire local environment benefits from the bees’ presence, as expanding human development means more honeybee production is needed to pollinate local vegetation. The Elephants and Bees project hopes to soon expand to India and other countries soon.
Lead image Shutterstock; others via Elephants and Bees