June 5, 2009

Kenya finds bees protect against elephants

African farmers say they have found a simple way to cut down on elephant raids on their crops -- cheap, easily installed beehive fences.

Farmers could not keep elephants off their land with the use of simple fences, Kenya residents said, and many were forced to shoot the massive animals.

But, one of Africa's biggest creatures is afraid of one of its smallest -- the bee, farmers discovered through an Oxford University pilot study. So, fences were draped with hives and angry bees often would respond when elephants tried to break through the fence.

Bees swarm around the elephants' eyes and up their trunks and can even kill calves, as they have thinner hides. Elephants are so scared of bees, experts say, they are even frightened away by recordings of the angrily buzzing insects, the Daily Telegraph reported.

Lucy King of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, said a farm protected by the beehive fence had 86 percent fewer successful crop raids by elephants.