The Scientific and Medical Network members sponsor Bee Fences in Kenya

beehive

Following a presentation by elephant researcher Lucy King at the 2015 Mystics and Scientists Conference, members raised £1459 towards the purchase of Bee Fences to protect at least two villages in Kenya from foraging elephants. Together with Gift Aid secured from Lord Andrew Stone, the total gift is £2,015 (matching the calendar year).

The Bee Fence results from years of research by Dr. Lucy King, who discovered an ecological way to protect plantations from destruction by foraging elephants. Until recently the only protective system was an electric fence, that was easily breached. The alternative was to kill the elephant. The enmity between villagers and elephants resulted in the slaughter of thousands of elephants. Lucy King, working with Save the Elephants searched for a new, ecological solution. Her breakthrough came when locals directed her to a tree that elephants avoided because it contained a beehive. This suggested to a new approach. Wild bees sting elephants and can inflict serious pain. Even the sound of buzzing bees causes elephants to move away from them.

A Bee Fence (above) consists of beehives suspended and connected by wires, surrounding a village or plantation. An intruding elephant rubs against the wires and disturbs the bees causing them to emerge and ward off the intruder. Tests showed that the fence was impenetrable, except for a few instances, during a dry season, when some of the beehives became vacant.

In thanking the Network for the gift, Dr. Lucy King said,

“It’s also enough to hire one of my Kenyan students for two months on a small stipend to help me build these new beehive fences which will make him very happy and give him some substantial work experience for his CV. He got a distinction in his project helping me assess this particular village for elephant conflict data and so being able to then implement two beehive fences as a mitigate strategy for the village will be a highlight for his early career.

“It’s extremely encouraging and I have already told my team out in Kenya about the donation and there were several “whoops” down the line that we now have funds for so many extra beehives!”

by Paul Kieniewicz

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