Beehive “Fences” Protect Farms from Elephants and Elephants from Firebombing Farmers

July 24, 2019 at 11:14 am

Instead of throwing firebombs at them, some African farmers are now using beehive “fences” to keep elephants from trampling their crops and getting free honey and pollination services while they’re at it 

In Africa, one of the biggest pests farmers face is elephants.

As the giant animals lose more and more of their habitat to agriculture, they inadvertently wander onto farm fields, trampling and/or eating the crops.

Farmers often respond by shooting, poisoning or even firebombing the majestic, endangered creatures.

A zoologist has come up with a less lethal method of keeping elephants at bay.

Apparently, the world’s largest land mammal is terrified of bees.

Just the sound of them buzzing has them running for cover.

Oxford zoologist Lucy King used that knowledge to come up with a plan to save the elephants and the crops.

She’s invented a beehive fence made up of beehives and ‘dummy’ beehives interlinked with a wire that causes the whole fence to swing and release the bees when bumped, CNN reports.

It’s a much cheaper alternative to an electric fence, but works in a similar way.

It takes about 15 hives to “fence” 2 acres of farmland.
In a study, King found 94% of elephants moved away from the source of bee sounds within 80 seconds.
Elephants’ famous long-term memory also helps make the fences effective.
Because they can identify bees by sound alone, “they may associate the sound with a negative historic event,” says King.
“Elephants emit a low frequency, infrasonic rumble in response to disturbed bees sounds that warns other elephants in the area to retreat.”
“Once they learn that there is an active beehive in a tree or on some posts around a farm, we suspect that they remember that local threat and will avoid it in the future.”
In addition to elephant control, the bees have given farmers a 15-30% increase in crop yields thanks to their pollination services and another valuable product to sell — honey!