How bees are helping farmers live alongside elephants

The tiny bee defends an impoverished farmer against the advance of enormous and hungry elephants, providing honey that eases any residual bad feeling. A fable? No, this is the new reality for farmers living next to Tsavo East National Park in Kenya.

Just how real is the subject of research published today showing that ‘beehive fences’ successfully defended ten small-scale farms on the front line of elephant incursions from Kenya’s largest elephant population in Tsavo. Over three and a half years 253 elephants entered the farming area of Mwakoma Village, usually when crops were ripening. 80 per cent of the time the elephants were turned away by the beehive fences, and the resulting success has resulted in a rapid uptake of beehive fences by other farmers in the community.

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