The humble bee is helping to keep elephants from destroying trees and wiping out crops in their quest for food.
A project launched near South Africa’s Kruger National Park in 2015 has found success. An elephant’s skin is thick but sensitive. The animals will try to avoid a bee sting whenever possible, experts say.
“They’re terrified of it coming up the trunk and then they could potentially suffocate,” says Jess Wilmot, a field researcher with the organization Elephants Alive.
Project founder Michelle Henley says beehives have proven to be “significantly effective” at protecting indigenous trees from being trampled.
“It’s amazing how a creature so small can actually scare away an elephant,” beekeeper Mark Collins says. Now the project is upgrading the beehives — and using them to explore commercial honey production.