We have embarked on an ambitious project to encourage and establish bee farming combined with honey fencing techniques, thanks to research and founded by Dr. Lucy King and her team.
The villagers of Mahawelipura have long understood the harmony shared between themselves and the wildlife. It has never been uncommon for the wild elephants to scout the border of the village, searching for food and water. However, the boundaries are frequently being over stepped, resulting in dire consequences with the destruction of cropland and even housing. We would like to develop a method to ensure the safety of the villagers in Mahawelipura from this threat received by wild elephants in the nearby jungles. We believe electric fencing to keep them at bay is cruel and harmful, and so have strived to find a more harmonic alternative. Hence, we will soon begin this project to establish a beehive farm and form an experimental ‘honey fence’ around the farm, using bee hives to keep the wild elephants away, as elephants dislike bees. Not only do the bees act as a natural deterrent but their honey can also be extracted and sold as a form of income, especially in Sri Lanka where the organic food industry is booming. Independent of the honey fencing experiment, the village will benefit from producing pure organic bee honey which is in high dement not only in Sri Lanka but all over the world.
We have found an experienced bee keeper and agricultural instructor (Mr. B. Karunaratne) who will provide his expertise to establish the initial bee colonies required for this project. Soon after the initial stage, we will begin our experimental honey fence project to see the effectiveness of it to deter wild elephants from attacking the farmland.
Phase 1 – Introduce Bee coloNIES and FarMERS workshop [NEAR completION]
Establish five bee colonies in a designated area of the village – B1- B5 see above map.
Organise and carryout a workshop to educate the farmers about the bee hive farming so that they will be self sufficient to maintain and expand their bee farms.
The workshop has been conducted by experienced Bee keeper and researcher Mr. B. Karuanaratne. Five initial bee colonies have been established in the village, they will be used for the next phase of this project.
Total estimted cost Rs 150,000
Phase 2 – Honey fencing Experiment [IN PROGRESS]
a) Move the established colonies from Phase 1, setup the honey fence and wired structure around an area where wild elephants are active.
b) Setup a sound system which boosts the simulation of bee activities.
c) Setup an activation mechanism to detect the elephants movements close to the honey fence which will give an advanced warning to the approaching wild elephants.
1. Setup wired honey fence Rs.30,000
2. Manual activation system with sound Rs. 80,000
3. Infrared based activation system Rs. 200,000
4. Setup, travel and other cost Rs. 50,000.
Total estimated cost Rs. 360,000
Phase 3 – Extend BEE farms TO Each FAMILY Block A1 – A16
This phase can begin straight after Phase 1
Provide at least one bee colony for each family in the village to one side of the road – Rs 6,000 x 16 = Total estimated cost Rs. 96,000 – see above map.
Phase 4 – Growing Bee COLONIES
With the knowledge gained at Phase 1 and 2, the farmers should now be able to multiply bee colonies 20 meters apart (minimum additional 2 colonies for each family) with no added a cost for producing colonies. Total cost for bee hive boxes 1800 x 2 x 16 = Rs. 57,600. There may be an additional cost for honey fencing if Phase 2 proved to be successful. Honey fence cost will be published after completion of Phase 2.
PHASE 5 – EXTEND BEE FARMS TO EACH FAMILY BOLCK C1 – C17
Total cost for bee hive boxes 1800 x 2 x 17 = Rs. 61,200. There may be an additional cost for honey fencing If Phase 2 proved to be successful. Honey fence cost will be published after completion of Phase 2.
PHase 6 – Honey COllection
Honey collection and extraction facility – we will be using the building completed by us to act as a centre for collection. More details of this phase will be published after completion of Phase 1 – 4.
Transport and marketing – it is estimated that a bottle of bee honey can be marketed at Rs. 3,000 in major cities of Sri Lanka.
Are you interested to get involve by sponsoring this exciting and experimental project ? Please Contact us. Please note costs stated are estimated and may subject to change.
Related stories: Environment pollution and wild elephants in Sri Lanka
We have filmed this video footage during a visit to Kantale to oversee the project at Sooriya Pura in December 2018.
We have observed elephants forage among a pile of rubbish, swallowing dangerous scraps of plastic mixed with rotting food which has become an increasing problem, we wrote to authorities in early 2019 with the footage, so far no actions have been taken.
Reference :  Elephants and bees.  Fence construction.  Sri Lanka unsung hero.