Bees are Elephant Pest Control?

Elephants making a ‘Bee Line’

Elephants Avoid Bees

Elephants avoid bees

It appears that farmers in Africa are dealing with larger pests to their crops than typical American farmers – the Elephant.  While generally regarded majestic and revered creatures, Elephants reak havoc on the crops of small African farmers.  Kenyan farmers, in particular, have had the biggest problems.  The bees actually act as an eco-friendly barrier between the elephant habitat and the farmland. The additional upside for the farmer is the honey yielded by these hives can be sold, providing an additional revenue stream.  Want to know more?  Check out this article by Discover Magazine.

A Double-Edged Sword

The United States put a hard stop to the ivory trade back in 1989.  Prior to this, Kenya was ground-zero for elephant poaching. Once the ban to affect, the population began a slow march towards a legitimate comeback.  While to most this would be seen as a big win for the pachyderms.  The downside came when the unchecked increasing populations roamed the countryside in search of food and water.    Farmers in small villages and nomadic farmers who grow for their families and communities are producing (in the eyes of the elephant) a surplus of food.  Like any hungry animal, it will seek out breakfast, lunch, and dinner wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Often, farmers will use chili pepper or thorn bushes as a way to repel the elephants.  In the case of the chili, the elephants hate the pepper small and the capsicum irritates the sensitive, interior lining of their trunk. Unfortunately, the usage of these countermeasures has met with limited success.  Bees, on the other hand, have proved to be quite another story altogether. Elephants are triggered by the buzzing of a large cluster of bees.  It bothers them so much in fact that they will let loose with a distinct low-frequency trumpet to let others in the pack know, to keep away.




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