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How the Honey you Eat, Could Help Save the Elephants

Prepare to be amazed as we dive into the incredible world where honeybees and conservation come together to create a harmonious coexistence between humans and elephants. Our team at Elephant Cooperation recently had the opportunity to visit the Save the Elephants “Elephants and Bees Research Center.” While there we learned more about a unique connection that has emerged between honeybees and conservation efforts aimed at mitigating human elephant conflict. The interplay between honeybees and elephants reveals fascinating insights into the natural world and offers sustainable solutions for both humans and wildlife.

Did you know that elephants have a secret fear? They are absolutely terrified of bees! When elephants come across these buzzing insects, they exhibit behaviors that show just how scared they are. Research conducted by Dr. Lucy King and her team from Save the Elephants have witnessed elephants becoming super vigilant, making loud noises, and quickly retreating when they encounter bees. But why are elephants so afraid of honeybees to begin with?

Picture this: bees love moisture, and elephants' trunks provide the perfect damp spots. Sometimes, these adventurous bees end up flying right up an elephant's trunk! Can you imagine the surprise for both the elephant and the bee? A study conducted by Dr. King in Kenya found that this encounter causes quite a stir, with elephants displaying signs of distress and alarm. It’s no wonder why elephants develop a lasting fear of bees after such an unexpected encounter.

Now what have researchers done with this discovery? They have created beehive fences! Imagine a fence made up of beehives connected by wires or ropes. It's not just any fence; it's a fence that keeps elephants away from precious crops while ensuring their habitats remain intact. How does it work? Well, elephants have learned to associate the buzzing sound and presence of bees with discomfort, making them think twice before crossing these buzzing barricades. Research by Dr. King showed that beehive fences reduced elephant crop raiding by a whopping 80%. This is not only a great thing for famers, but also for the elephants, as it reduces the number of negative encounters that they have with local villages. Save the Elephants also has a unique ‘how to’ manual, the Human-Elephant Coexistence (HEC) Toolbox of tried and tested elephant deterrents, to empower rural communities to protect their livelihoods from elephants. Built on the success of their Elephants and Bees Project, the HEC Toolbox comprises over 80 elephant friendly tools including the successful beehive fence method, which has been deployed worldwide across 90 elephant conflict sites in 23 countries.

Hold onto your sweet tooth, because we're about to explore the economic side of this honeybee tale. In impoverished communities sharing habitats with elephants, cultivating honey has become a sweet solution for generating income. Beekeeping projects are buzzing with success, providing communities with an alternative livelihood. A study conducted in Mozambique revealed that honey production and sales significantly contributed to poverty reduction and improved livelihoods. Talk about turning honey into money!

After our visit to the Elephants and Bees Research Center, we can't help but marvel at the incredible connection between honeybees, conservation, and human-elephant coexistence. From elephants' fear of bees to the clever beehive fences protecting crops and habitats, and the sweet success of honey production as an income source, it's a tale of harmony and balance. So, let's continue to support these initiatives, spread the buzz, and ensure that humans, elephants, and honeybees thrive together in this wondrous journey of life. To watch a short video about elephants and honeybees, please go to our YouTube channel at

About Elephant Cooperation

Elephant Cooperation’s mission is “saving the African elephant before it is too late.” Elephant Cooperation is a unique 501(c)3 focused on finding and funding the most effective ways to help elephants and the communities living near them. Our motto is “No Poverty, No Poaching.” Founded in 2016 by Scott Struthers, co-founder of Sonance and son of a biologist. For more information please visit: About Save the Elephants

Save the Elephants was founded in 1993 by Iain Douglas-Hamilton with a mission to secure a future for elephants and to sustain the beauty and ecological integrity of the places they live; to promote man’s delight in their intelligence and the diversity of their world, and to develop a tolerant relationship between the two species. To learn more about their "Elephant Friendly Honey" please visit

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