Farmers are Releasing Swarms of Bees on Intrusive Elephants

August 26, 2016 | Erica Tennenhouse

Indian elephants
Photo credit: Yathin S Krishnappa/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

By taking advantage of bee phobia, Thai farmers are protecting their crops from elephant invaders.

The last thing farmers want are raids of elephants stomping through their fields. To protect their valuable produce from the massive animals, farmers in Thailand have pulled out almost all the stops, firing gunshots, exploding fireworks, and putting up electric fences.

But elephants are persistent, so the farmers are now moving on to Plan Bee.

Scientists have known for some time that elephants are terrified of bees, as just the sound of buzzing causes them to bolt in the other direction.

So to ease building tensions between elephants and farmers, the Thai Department of National Parks is testing the use of bees as a line of defense, the Associated Press reports.

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The idea is to place beehives in boxes, and raise them on stilts around the farm. A rope will connect all of the boxes, so if an elephant tries to push through, it will jostle the beehives, causing bees to swarm out and frighten the bejesus out of the phobic intruders.

Elephant raids are especially problematic in the eastern province of Chanthaburi, where lush forests are adjacent to farming communities. Farmers continue to expand their agricultural lands further into the forest, causing elephant habitat to shrink, and putting them in closer proximity to farms.

Although the bee method might not be feasible for large farms, which would potentially require thousands of expensive beehive boxes, smaller farms can get away with far fewer boxes and thus stand to benefit from this creative solution.

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