Are Elephants Afraid of Bees?

African elephants are so afraid of bees that they use a specific, rumbling sound to warn each other about them. Researchers found that they'll make the sound even in response to a recording of bees, and that other elephants react to the warning rumble even if they don't hear any bees. Scientists aren't sure if the sound is used to warn against other threats as well. Elephants also have sounds associated with greeting each other, telling each other it's time to move to a different place, and indicating that they're ready to mate.

More facts about elephants:

  • Elephants don't only communicate by sound — touch is very important to them, as are body movements. They also communicate by causing vibration patterns in the ground.
  • African elephants carry their babies for almost two years before they're born. This is the longest gestation period of any mammal, followed by rhinos and sperm whales, each of which gestate for between 16 and 20 months.
  • Elephants can eat up to around 1,000 lbs (about 455 kg) of vegetation a day, but only about 40% is digested properly.
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Discussion Comments


In view of their thick hides, I wonder at the bee problem. Do the African Bees know to go for the eyes, ears and underbellies? Do they target the young?


With two years gestation period, a female elephant can not have too many babies in her lifetime. I wonder what is the average, and what is the maximum?

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