Lucy King’s Elephants and Bees Project
Tsavo Trust Beehive Fence Project Background
The Beehive Fence project uses the behavioral discovery by The Elephants and Bees Project that African elephants will avoid honey bees. Tsavo Trust (a) deploys their successful Beehive Fence design to reduce conflict between crop-raiding elephants and small rural farms, and (b) provides beekeeping and pollination services as an income generator for poor farming families through the sale of Elephant-Friendly Honey. The Elephants and Bees Project is conducted under the umbrella of the research charity Save the Elephants (STE) in association with the University of Oxford and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in full partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). To date 13 countries are now trying bees as a natural deterrent for crop-raiding elephants in both Africa and Asia.
Upon hearing of the high levels of success of the Elephants and Bees Project and very much believing that the concept could benefit the Kamungi Community, Tsavo Trust hosted the Elephants and Bees team for a day in November 2016 in order to tour the area, visit farms and do a small study to identify three prospective farmers. In December 2016 Tsavo Trust then took these farmers, along with members of the Tsavo Trust staff, to visit the Elephants and Bees Research Centre in Voi. Dr Lucy King and her highly knowledgeable team gave an excellent presentation which was both educational and motivating. Additionally, our teams and staff visited a few farms close to the Research Centre where beehive fences have been established. All came away agreeing that this is a highly impressive yet simple concept that could be a game changer in the lives of the Kamungi Community.
In summary, this project is expected to boost the local economy and generate additional business for villagers through the eventual sale of ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’ as well as provide an increased level of protection against crop-raiding elephants who can easily devour one or more families precious crop and entire seasonal provisions in just one night. We anticipate that this project will help increase tolerance and co-existence between elephants and the Kamungi Conservancy farmers and greatly reduce Human Elephant Conflict (HEC) in the area.
Beehive Fence Project News and Updates:
Thanks to the support of Forix Foundation, another 1 acre Beehive Fence has just been completed on a farm in Kamungi Conservancy, close to the boundary of Tsavo East National Park.
With the start of the rainy season kicking in elephant crop raiders are expected to increase once crops mature. This is always a serious challenge for KWS and Tsavo Trust along the Kamungi Conservancy boundary with TENP. Beehive Fences, pioneered by Dr. Lucy King's Elephants and Bees Project and Save The Elephants, have proved to successfully deter elephants from raiding farmers crops.
Most hives are fully occupied, fences are being weighed down with honey. Now it is time to put in the super box and queen excluders. Sadly we are in the middle of a drought, the amount of rainfall this season was well below expectations, and now the community faces the beginning of the next dry season which is likely to last until October.
In collaboration with Dr King and her renowned Elephants and Bees Project, Tsavo Trust have implemented three pilot beehive fence projects based on the highest results-oriented models for construction and monitoring within the Kamungi Conservancy.
Each farm is located quite some distance apart and all agreed they would be ideal candidates. The farmers agreed to section off one acre of each farm to construct three pilot beehive fence trial sites with the guidance of Lucy and her expert team.