Riley Evans, June's Guest Author for Wild Survivors
Hello! My name is Riley Evans and I just completed my first year at Wake Forest University! I lived in London for 7 years and now am back in the US to attend university. My main study is undecided yet, but I am leaning towards a possible major in business, communications, or literature, with a minor concentration in the Chinese language. My favourite travel memory to date is when my family and I traveled to Cape Three Points, Ghana to visit a school we have been working with for a number of years. It was incredible to see all the past, present, and future students, and how our hard work and fundraising has changed their lives.
Our world is facing a dire problem when it comes to the decline of bee populations, and most of us are neglecting this problem. Bees play a tremendous role in the spread of pollen, which in turn, makes our flowers blossom, our trees bloom, and our grass green. Similarly, elephants have fallen victim to illicit deals between farmers who don’t want their crops ruined, and poachers who want to kill as many elephants as possible. These deals benefit both farmers and poachers, but have detrimental effects on elephant populations across Africa. So, how do we save the bees, save the elephants, and save our planet?
The beehive fence.
The beehive fence, or beehive deterrent was an idea born from Dr. Lucy King, Head of the Human-Elephant Co-Existence Program for Save the Elephants (learn more about her here: https://www.zoo.ox.ac.uk/people/dr-lucy-king). Her DPhil degree thesis examined the relationship between African elephants and African honeybees, and how the honeybees can be used as a deterrent for elephants, keeping them away from farmer’s lands, and out of harm’s way (to an extent).
Wild Survivors has adopted this idea and began planning how to bring this to life in Tanzania because the beehive fences are beneficial to the elephant population, the farmers land, and the bees. It works by creating a natural barrier between farmland and elephant roaming territory. Based on her research, Dr. King was able to determine that the bees were the most effective way of keeping elephants away from farmer’s properties. And the beehives aren’t only keeping the elephants safe from the farmers, but also allows the farmers to become beekeepers. If the farmers learn how to keep bees and have these beehives as protection from the elephants, their crops will flourish and they will be able to collect the honey from the hives.
The peacekeeping Top Bar Beehive, designed in Tanzania, for Wild Survivors:
The TopBar hive is not only protected from the rain and intense sun by the tin roof on the top, but also by thatched roofing secured over the hive when they're hung. The goal for the beehive fences are to hang them about shoulder height of an elephant, so when the elephant is trying to move past the “fence” into a farmer’s land, they will bump into the box, disrupting the bees. The sound of the bees buzzing will then scare the elephants away from the box, and away from the farm.
I think this idea is brilliant. My father and I are bee keepers and we have started a project with a school we support in Ghana to bring beehives and beekeeping into the curriculum. This is a great way to not only repopulate and support the bee species, but also give students the ability to make money while they go to school. This is the same for the farmers. Not only are they helping their crops, but the honey they collect from the hives can be used in the home or sold to others.
Here’s an example of Dr. Lucy King’s beehive fence set up in Sagalla, Kenya:
Each hive is suspended as its own unit, and has a thatched roof above it. This is how the bee fence works and can be as big or small as needed. Interestingly, not all the boxes are actual bee hives. Some of them are “dummies” and are just a piece of wood that mimics one side of the hive. These dummies allow a farmer to not have to spend extreme amounts of money on a lot of hives but can purchase some hives and some dummies. As the elephants run into the fence more and more, they will begin to recognise the hives as danger just by the sight of them, so they could see a dummy hive and turn away.