Following on from the post regarding the Effectiveness of Electric Fencing in protecting crops, there are alternate initiatives to achieve the same effect - protect crops from wild animals.

These are centred around the use of natural deterrents and include chilli plants and honey bees. It has been a long established knowledge that elephants are not enamoured by the presence of bees. Bear in mind these are not the tame European bee but the more aggressive African Bee (Apis mellifera). This is shown in the following clip. (Apologies for the beginning, this is a Youtube clip))

Not only is the sound of bees sufficient to scare a herd of elephants off, the warning sound emitted by the elephants (the deep rumbles that are audible) may also be used to move them on as shown in this clip;-

Unfortunately the elephants grew to realise there were no bees and the effectiveness deteriorated so a different strategy had to be developed.

By having actual beehives in a line around the necessary area as shown in the image below and linked together by wires so that if an elephant made contact with the wire this would disturb a few hives and cause a reaction from the bees (don't forget African bees are far more volatile than European strains) This arrangement has worked well  . 

bee_fence

There are several problems with this concept;-

  • It is clearly not viable for extensive application and is only suited to small area protection.
  • Each beehive would have in the region of 25000 bees.
  • The bees themselves require food so if their food source over the year is limited then they tend to depart from the hives and seek better pastures.
  • The bees are only effective against a small range of animals that feed on crops, majority of the smaller animals, wild pig, baboons, monkeys and antelope, that also do severe damage are not controlled
  • Working in the fields can be occasionally fraught with danger. African bees are not the same as the tame European bee.

It was successful where a PIR (motion detector) unit connected to a sound system was employed and sent the sound as and when the unit was triggered.

There is definitely merit in the concept and has been used in India as well as Kenya with success but it does have limitations.

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