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Everybody is familiar with the idea of an elephant becoming frightened upon discovering a mouse. This portrayal of elephants can be seen in a variety of movies, most famously Dumbo. However, the experts tell us that elephants are not afraid of mice, not even a little. However, elephants are deathly afraid of bees. More specifically, elephants respond in fear to the mere odor of nearby honeybees.

In the country of India and nearby regions, elephants are largely considered to be hazards to the public. There has been a countless number of incidents involving elephant attacks during outdoor events. Elephants also cause damage to crops quite frequently in India. The problems posed by elephants in the country has prompted officials to install trip wires and elephant-proof fences in an effort to protect people and minimize crop damage. Unfortunately, these methods, and many others, have proven to be largely ineffective at repelling the majestic beasts. Luckily, researchers have recently stumbled upon a novel way of keeping elephant activity at bay. As it turns out, elephants cannot tolerate the odors that are emitted by angry honey bees.

For years, farmers in Kenya have noticed that elephants tend to avoid trampling through their crops if honey bees are present in the same area. As a result of this finding, some Kenyan farmers have started to keep beehives in certain areas of their farm. The mere buzzing sound of honey bees is enough to scare the tusked behemoths away for good. As effective as honey bees are at keeping elephants from intruding where they are not wanted, officials find the idea of planting bee hives around national parks and other areas to be impractical. 

In response to this finding on the part of Kenyan farmers, one entomologist, Mark Wright, began studying bee physiology in an effort to understand what makes bees a threat to elephants. Wright eventually created a concoction of various alarm pheromones that are emitted by bees when they become angry. Wright then placed this concoction near water sources that had been frequented by thirsty elephants in the past. The elephants, with their superior sense of smell, began avoiding these water sources like the plague, thus confirming Wright’s theory. 

Despite their size, elephants hate bee stings, and they will do anything to avoid them. Of all the elephants that had visited the water source, 86 percent ran the other direction in fear. Wright is hoping that his concoction can be put to good use in the country, as it could literally save human lives from deadly elephant stompings.

Do you think that Wright’s concoction of the alarm pheromones of bees should be adopted as a public health measure in India?