Bee Hives Are Helping African Farmers Protect Their Crops
What is large, grey, has big ears, and is afraid of bees? No, its not your grandpa…Thats right, Elephants!
Mice aren’t the only creatures that will make an elephant stand up on its hind legs and skedaddle. Scientists have discovered that bees can also make these enormous mammals head for the hills and alert all other surrounding elephants.
This is good news for farmers in Africa who are having trouble protecting their crops from these thieving creatures. An elephant can consume a farmers’ entire crop in just one night, therefore African farmers will keep watch of the crop field all night during harvest season. If an elephant comes near the field, the farmer will chase after the trunked mammal with flamed sticks while his children follow banging on pots and pans.
This current method used to guard the crops has become a life threat to both man and the elephant. Farmers will sometimes kill the elephant if it is not frightened off by the flames and loud noises of clanging pots. Also, humans can been trampled by a rampaged elephant while protecting their crops. The Kenya Wildlife Service receives about 1,300 complaints annually regarding elephant-human contact.
Stacy King, who studies animal behavior, conducted two experiments to learn more about the relationship between the insect and the mammal. The first experiment consisted of playing recorded bee sounds near the elephants which resulted in the elephants backing away. Furthermore, groups of elephants that were too far away for the bee sounds to be audible to them began to run. This indicated that elephants will warn others in the vicinity with a sound that is inaudible to humans.
The second experiment included hanging ultra-sensitive microphones on the trees to record the alarm the elephants produced when frightened. King then replayed the low rumble to find the elephants fleeing from the area.
The theory is to surround the farmer’s crops with bee hives on poles about 10 yards apart and attached the hives to a strong wire, therefore, when the elephants try to cross in the field, they will push against the wire causing the hives to sway and ultimately disturb the bees. The swarm of bees will attack the large mammal resulting in the creatures warning alarm and leaving the crops untouched.
Now we need to find a natural way to scare bees away to make for a safe environment around our homes!