Throughout Africa and Asia, elephants can be seen as problem causers. The behemoth mammals destroy crops and threaten farmers’ livelihoods when they trundle through fields after tasty snacks. Scarecrows, fences and noisemaking tripwires don’t deter the beasts, and tensions with humans can escalate so much that elephants are sometimes shot.
Now, scientists have discovered that the odor of angry honeybees is an effective elephant repellant. The find may offer a way keep the tusked giants out of crops and villages.
Farmers in Kenya already knew that honeybees in active hives can stop elephants from breaking fences and protect their crops — the animals hate bee stings as much as the rest of us. And once introduced to the insects, elephants learn to avoid hives and the hum of buzzing bees. But using vast numbers of active beehives around large farms or conservation areas such as national parks is impractical.