Food ForestsGeneralInsects

Bees Versus Elephants

Not too many permaculturists have to deal with problems as potentially destructive, and even deadly, as elephants. But, I have met some of these people in my travels (see here and here). For those around the world grappling with this oversized issue, here is some potential help born of good permaculture system observation:

A simple fence made from wood, wire and beehives can deter elephants from raiding farmers’ crops.

A pilot study in Kenya has shown that such fences reduce the number of raids by elephants by almost half.

The work is the culmination of previous research which showed elephants are naturally scared of African honey bees.

A much larger trial is now under way in the hope the fences will provide an elegant solution to years of conflict between elephants and farmers. — BBC

The permaculture principle of ensuring every element in the system performs several functions is certainly adhered to with this idea. As well as being a stinging deterent, bees obviously also provide additional services — like pollination and honey production.

Beehive fences are proving to be another successful, and humane, way to deter elephants. Working with Oxford zoologists, Save the Elephants researchers designed the fence, strung at intervals with beehives. The fence poses an effective and affordable barrier that elephants are literally too afraid to cross.

The hives are made from logs suspended on fence poles set 8m apart and connected with fencing wire. Each hive is protected from the sun by a small thatch roof. Oxford researchers say that when elephants attempt to push through the fence, the hives swing around at the end of their wires and the bees are roused. Their agitated buzzing causes the elephants to turn tail and run. —

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