Our Beehive Fence Design
The Beehive Fences are simple and cheap, made with no cement and using only locally sourced materials. Hives, or dummy hives, are hung every ten meters and linked together in a specific formation so that should an elephant touch one of the hives, or interconnecting wire, the beehives all along the fence line will swing and release the bees.
We have field tested this Beehive Fence design in three rural farming communities in Kenya with over 80% success rate. Any type of beehive can be used although our project focuses on using Kenyan Top Bar Hives and Langstroth Hives as they swing efficiently in the Beehive Fence and provide optimum honey yields for the farmers. Beehive Fences are cheap to construct costing approximately $150 to $500 per 100m depending on what types of beehives are us
To see more images of the Beehive Fence Project, go to original article and watch slide show.
Rural small scale farmers benefit from Beehive Fences in many ways including:
- Reduced invasive elephant crop raids that often cause trauma and injury to family members;
- Increased yield production through both reduced damage and, potentially, increased bee pollination of crops;
- Additional income through the sale of ‘Elephant-Friendly Honey’ and bee products;
- Increased quality of life with greater income and less life-threatening HEC conflict situations with elephants.
The map on the left shows the countries in yellow where beehive fences are currently being used. Countries in red are where the possibility of using beehive fences is being discussed.
In most areas the concept of Beehive Fences is easily adopted, as beekeeping is an age-old activity that the majority of African communities already participate in. Traditional communities commonly harvest wild honey from wild hives and enjoy honey as a natural food source and sweetener. Although modern box hives and beekeeping is often new for our farmers, they adapt quickly to the simple skills needed to look after the hives and to harvest honey efficiently.
Indirectly, the project supports an increased honey bee population into farming areas which are, mostly, experiencing human expansion and development. Often such expansion includes negative activities such as overgrazing, land clearance and charcoal burning. Additional bee pollinators in such areas should help to increase pollination rates of natural vegetation such as trees, bushes, flowering shrubs and wild grasses. This not only increases quality forage for livestock but also maintains a carbon sink for storing atmospheric carbon. Additionally, farmers might begin to see beekeeping as a more sustainable and financially viable alternative to charcoal burning as one tree can support many beehives for many years, but only produces one bag of charcoal once. Please get in touch with Dr King if you would like a site visit or to support the project.
Beehive Fence Manual
King, L.E. (2014) Beehive Fence Construction Manual. A step by step guide to building a protective beehive fence to deter crop-raiding elephants from farm land. Published by Save the Elephants, Nairobi, Kenya. Download Manual