Use bees to deter crop damage by mammals (e.g. elephants) to reduce human-wildlife conflict

How is the evidence assessed?
  • Effectiveness
  • Certainty
  • Harms

Study locations

Key messages

  • Three studies evaluated the effects on elephants of using bees to deter crop damage to reduce human-wildlife conflict. All three studies were in Kenya.





  • Human-wildlife conflict (3 studies): Three replicated studies (including one controlled study), in Kenya, found that beehive fences reduced crop raiding by African elephants.

About key messages

Key messages provide a descriptive index to studies we have found that test this intervention.

Studies are not directly comparable or of equal value. When making decisions based on this evidence, you should consider factors such as study size, study design, reported metrics and relevance of the study to your situation, rather than simply counting the number of studies that support a particular interpretation.

Supporting evidence from individual studies

  1. A controlled study in 2007 on two farms in Laikipia, Kenya (King et al. 2009) found that a beehive fence (without resident bees) reduced crop-raiding by African elephants Loxodonta africana. Results were not tested for statistical significance. There were fewer successful crop raids on the farm protected by the beehive fence (7 raids) than on the unprotected farm (13 raids). Fewer individual elephants raided the protected farm (38) than the unprotected farm (95). The two farms, 466 m apart, each approximately 2 acres, grew similar mixes of maize Zea mays, potatoes Solanum tuberosum, sorghum Sorghum sp and beans. On one farm, nine hives were suspended under thatch roofs, along a 90-m boundary. A wire between hives connected to the wires suspending hives, so an elephant pushing against it caused the hives to shake, and bees to emerge. However, hives were unoccupied during the trial. The second farm was unprotected. Elephant raids were documented by farmers over six weeks in August–September 2007.

    Study and other actions tested
  2. A replicated, controlled study in 2008–2010 on agricultural land around two villages in Kenya (King et al. 2011) found that beehive fences reduced entry onto farmland by elephants Loxodonta africana. Elephants entered farmland through a beehive fence less often (1 occasion) than they did through traditional thorn bush barriers (31 occasions). Following entry to farmland, elephants also left less frequently through beehive fences (six occasions) than they did through thorn bush barriers (26 occasions). Thirty-four farms were studied, of which 17 were protected along parts of their perimeters by beehive fences and 17 were protected solely by traditional thorn bush barriers. Beehive fences comprised a total of 149 beehives deployed in June–August 2008 and 21 deployed in April 2009. Hives were positioned 10 m apart. Farms were monitored over three crop seasons, from June 2008 until June 2010.

    Study and other actions tested
  3. A replicated study in 2012–2015 of 10 crop fields in an agricultural community in Kenya (King et al. 2017) found that beehive fences deterred crop raiding by African elephants Loxodonta africana. Of 238 elephants that approached farms with beehive fences, more turned away (190 elephants) than broke through to raid crops (48). On 65 occasions, elephant groups approached to ≤10 m from beehive fences. Of these, 39 groups (114 elephants) turned back at the fence and 26 groups (50 elephants) broke through fences. Eight farm plots, each 0.4 ha extent, were enclosed by beehive fences, built in June 2012 to February 2013. Fences comprised 12 beehives and 12 two-dimensional plywood dummy hives suspended from a wire running continuously between fence posts. Pushing the wire caused hives to rock and bees to emerge. Elephant movements around fences were recorded by farmers.

    Study and other actions tested
Please cite as:

Littlewood, N.A., Rocha, R., Smith, R.K., Martin, P.A., Lockhart, S.L., Schoonover, R.F., Wilman, E., Bladon, A.J., Sainsbury, K.A., Pimm S. and Sutherland, W.J. (2020) Terrestrial Mammal Conservation: Global Evidence for the Effects of Interventions for terrestrial mammals excluding bats and primates. Synopses of Conservation Evidence Series. University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.

Where has this evidence come from?

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Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

This Action forms part of the Action Synopsis:

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation
Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation - Published 2020

Terrestrial Mammal Conservation

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