Elephants afraid of bees

Source: nrc.nl
African elephants are not scared of many things, but for African honey bees they flee. The sound of the bees proved enough to chase the elephants away. It had been noted before that elephants avoid acacia trees and their bee nests.
Although bees can not sting through the thick elephant skin, stings around the eyes, behind the ears and in the trunk are extremely painful for the elephants.

It had been suggested that farmers place bee hives round their fields. Due to the advancing agriculture, the elephantsÂ’ habitat diminishes. This frequently causes confrontations with local farmers. Bee hives alongside the field should keep the elephants off. The honey also offers extra income.
Recent research has shown that the sound of a swarm of bees is enough to make the elephants flee. The research was performed in Samburu/Buffalo Springs National Park in Kenya. A speaker was hidden in a tree, under which elephant families were wont to look for protection during the hottest moments of the day. The animals were exposed to the bee sounds or, as a check, the sound of a waterfall. The waterfall sound did not impress the elephants. The sound of bees, however, quickly alarmed the animals. Some groups ran off within ten seconds, with their tails up. Only one group of animals did not respond: it is likely that the animals had never dealt with bees before.
The question remains whether playing the sound is enough to keep the elephants permanently off the fields. Elephants are clever animals, and when they notice that no stings follow, they could start to ignore the sound.
The research has been published in the Current Biology.