A group of Kenyan farmers bordering the Tsavo National Park have come up with a novel way of wading off wildlife that often invade their farms. They are shielding their farms using bees.
One such farmer is Steven Musyoki who has over 20 beehives that he keeps on his farm to guarantee a harvest as well as a decent profit from the honey that he collects from these insects.
The biological means of protecting his farm is a far cry from his neighbors who have used more crude methods of keeping elephants away from his farm. Retaliation rarely turns out well, since non-fatal injuries can just make elephants mad, leading them to attack and sometimes kill humans. When farmers do kill elephants, they add to growing pressures like poaching and habitat loss that are already pushing the animals to extinction. Fences are another option, but they require extreme strength or a deterrent like electricity — neither of which is cheap. Elephant-proof fences can cost up to $12,000 per kilometer, a tall order for subsistence farmers.
Dr. Lucy King of Save the Elephants carried out research which showed that elephants were frightened of bees. So officers from the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust camp based in the area were deployed to install the beehives round seven farms bordering the park, creating a beehive fence.
Skeptical farmers who initially viewed the beehive fences with suspicion now want to be incorporated.
Researchers have found that in homesteads where they were installed, 80 percent of the time these beehive fences have successfully managed to keep elephants out, significantly bringing down cases of invasion of farms by elephants.