back to article Boffin's wall of bees shields farms from stampeding elephants

A British researcher who studied elephants' fear of being stung by bees has been given a gong for developing a fence of beehives to reduce clashes between humans and the mighty mammals. Dr Lucy King's invention stops the giant animals from wandering onto farm land and causing havoc because they are so terrified of swarms of …


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  1. Thomas 18

    Cost of beehives

    Must be quite expensive to buy a beehive every 10 meters.

    1. Cameron Colley

      Buy beehives?

      Wouldn't they just make them? Surely people must have cultivated bees in Africa before?

      1. Thomas 18
        Thumb Up

        Expensive in effort and expertise then maybe

        There must be a diminishing return on building them in terms of honey yield.

        1. laird cummings

          Who cares about honey yields..?

          "...effort and expertise then maybe..."

          Seriously, who gives a damn about the honey? The hives are there to protect the crops - If they do that, any honey harvested is pure bonus. And since the bees themselves will reproduce to populate the hives, maintenance costs are minimal.

          Brilliant idea - simple, cost effective, low maintenance. What's not to like?

          1. Robert E A Harvey

            >Who cares about honey yields.?

            The Bees?

            I suspect half the hives could end up empty if they can't make enough.

            1. laird cummings

              "...half empty..."

              Again, "who cares?"

              So long as the hives are occupied at all, they're effective.

              Which is the key point.

        2. Kanhef

          not really

          I've worked with a few beekeepers, and the design of hives is quite simple; any half-decent carpenter can build them. Making the wax comb foundation is a bit trickier, but I'm sure someone could set up an operation with support from a microlending bank. Honey yields might not be great with that many hives close together, but it's essentially free.

  2. James 51
    Thumb Up

    Neat solution, polinator and protector.

  3. MrJP
    IT Angle

    And there must be a market for locally grown honey?

  4. Filippo Silver badge

    This needs to get implemented in Dwarf Fortress as soon as possible.

  5. Rick Brasche

    is this another Australia in the making?

    so we're going to take what we've been told is a "fragile ecosystem" and introduce a massive increase of one particular life form to deal with another? Especially when, in order to get the coverage needed to be useful, large scale bee breeding programs will need to be instituted, with plenty of opportunity to "improve" the species for "economic" reasons?

    or are going to be assailed by the global warming alarmists who see an increase in the "aggressive Africanized" honey bees as a sign of the Thermocalypse and not a thing to do with a massive increase of cultivation of said bees for "fencing"?

    1. laird cummings


      The bees are NATIVE. Relax a bit, eh?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now this is whatI want my kids to aspire to

    useful, practical science, not some lip-synching twat on a "talent" show.

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Now, who is going to create an environmentally friendly wall to protect the elephants from the stampeding corporations?

    1. Tom Maddox Silver badge

      One word

      More bees.

    2. Snapper


      World Apiarist Security Patrol

      Commander = Buzz Lightyear.

      Honorary President = Sting

  8. The Flying Dutchman

    One wonders...

    ... does this particular species of bee posses extensible Titanium stings? Elephants having a certain reputation for being thick skinned and all...

  9. Dan Paul
    Thumb Up

    Brit Boffin BONUS!!!!! - You can make Mead from Honey

    Beehives - Hollow Logs or Woven Grass, Minor labor, otherwise Free!

    Reliable Pollination for crops, provides higher yields, all Free!

    Highly Deterrent, Intelligent Elephant Defense Perimeter - Cost of labor and some bee stings, otherwise Free!

    All the Honey you need to make Mead - Nearly Priceless, you can drink it or sell it, your choice.

    Dr. Lucy King saving Elephants from themselves (and Angry Villagers) - Cannot put words to how priceless that brilliant gal is, ought to get some kind of Nobel prize for that one.

  10. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Brilliant, elegant and simple.

    And as others would have said, any honey harvested is pure gravy.

    I'll get my anti-bee suit on the way out.

    1. Wombling_Free

      um, no...

      Bees make honey, not gravy.

      Gravy grows on trees cultivated in Parliament.

  11. Lars Silver badge


    It would be enough with just the sound of bees.

  12. Lars Silver badge

    To patent that

    I suppose you have to turn it into a software patent.

  13. Kugutsu

    can this scale up?

    The bees over there must be a lot sturdier than the varieties we have here in Europe. Here, keeping colonies from collapsing due to a staggering array of factors (varroa mites and other parasites, bacteria and viruses, wasps (and soon hornets from France), starvation, cold, pesticides, being too weak to survive due to stubbornly swarming away the majority of the population in the hive, etc, etc), is what makes beekeeping less a hobby, and more a vocation.

    Even though the climate will help some of these problems (cold and starvation), I still doubt that beehives can just be set up and forgotten, and maintaining the sheer number of hives to surround even a small farm would be a full time job.

    Not to mention, where will all these bees come from? And what will they eat? They will all be competing for the same resources (nectar and pollen from flowers), so beyond a certain density of colonies per area, the competition will mean that some of the colonies will either move out, or die.

    This is not to say I am not impressed with the idea, but it seems to have some holes in (rather like the elephants if they get too near the fence :P )

    1. Spongibrain

      ... also known as KILLER BEES

      is it these fellows ?

  14. Michael Thibault

    Forget the bees! They're a fussy, doomed species anyway--high maintenance even on the way out. But there's a market for elephant-proof, elephant-detecting, solar-powered kit of a proprietary, DRM'n'TPM'ed nature to playback copywritten--nay, patented--digital bee sounds as and when necessary, from singletons to swarms, to protect the precious GM crops in certain farmers' fields ... at a price, of course. IT? I love IT!

  15. chairman_of_the_bored

    Oh, come on...

    Give bees a chance

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