Beehive fence deters crop-raiding elephants
King LE., Lawrence A., Douglas-Hamilton I., Vollrath F.
Previous work has shown that African elephants Loxodonta africana will avoid African honeybees Apis mellifera scutellata. Here we present results from a pilot study conducted to evaluate the concept of using beehives to mitigate elephant crop depredation. In Laikipia, Kenya, we deployed a 90-m fence-line of nine inter-connected hives, all empty, on two exposed sides of a square two-acre farm that was experiencing high levels of elephant crop depredation. Compared with a nearby control farm of similar status and size, our experimental farm experienced fewer raids and consequently had higher productivity. Socioeconomic indicators suggest that not only was the concept of a beehive fence popular and desired by the community but also that it can pay for its construction costs through the sale of honey and bee products. We are calling for experiments testing this concept of a 'guardian beehive-fence' to be conducted rigorously and scientifically in as wide a range of agricultural settings as possible to evaluate jointly its effectiveness and efficiency. © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.