Honeybees not only deter elephants from meandering into cropland, they offer a sweet benefit to farmers.
Until recently, few humane methods have existed to ward elephants away from farmers’ crops. As a result, elephant-human conflicts have become more and more commonplace. Not only can farmers’ and their families become traumatized from close-encounters with the giant mammals, their livelihoods may be lost if their crops are trampled and eaten.
Though growers could fence in their property, few small farmers can afford the fee. In addition, standing guard in fields with airhorns and bright lights is very labor-intensive. Luckily, a sweet solution to the issue has recently been presented.
According to the charity Save the Elephants, honeybees not only deter elephants from meandering into cropland, they offer a sweet benefit to farmers.
The organization is helping empower farmers through its Elephants & Bees project by equipping growers with the tools needed to raise honeybees and, in effect, drive away elephants.
The Beehive Fences are reportedly simple and cheap to make, as they require no cement and are created using only locally-sourced materials. Hung every ten meters, the beehives are interlinked with a trip line that – when pulled – activates a disturbance mechanism. The distressed bees then leave their hives, inspiring the elephants to flee; this is because the mammals have evolved to retreat when they hear the sound of the stinging insects.
When the design was field-tested in rural farming communities in Kenya, it had a 80% success rate. Such is positive news, as the Beehive Fences are an aid to more than just the farmers. As GoodNewsNetwork relays, the increased pollination of surrounding vegetation benefits the environment by supporting edible greenery for local wildlife and by providing a carbon sink for atmospheric carbon.
Because the method has proven to be successful, it is quickly spreading to other African countries, including Uganda, Sri Lanka, Botswana, and Mozambique.
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