Urban Beekeeping Can Save Crows from Extermination in Japan

bee hive close photo

Photo via fishermansdaughter via Flickr CC

Crows are considered a menace in Japan and for the last 10 years, the country has been waging a war against them. There's been a range of tactics, but one that catches our eye is using one animal species to ward off another. Specifically, bees. Exterminating overabundant crows
NPR reports that crow populations are booming in Japan, and while efforts have been made to improve trash services to cut off food sources, the birds are still considered too numerous and too much of a nusance to keep around.

The inhumane tactic being used is traps, luring the birds into giant cages, then gassing the captured crows.

"We do get complaints from people opposed to the crow extermination. But this is the policy of the environment bureau. People should also learn to deal with garbage better," says Koji Takagi, manager at Tokyo's Yoyogi Park, which has three traps.

crow in japan photo

Photo by MShades via Flickr Creative Commons
Bees offer a more humane way to handle crow populations
But there's a more humane way created by a privately funded project called the Ginza Honeybee Project. We first heard about the project back in 2008, and it's a series of rooftop hives that are home to 300,000 honeybees. While the project is more about making honey in urban spaces, it has a handy side effect for the crow situation.

The bees literally chase the crows away when the birds get too near, yet they're still docile honey producers for humans.

Strategically placing honeybee hives can help reduce the number of crows in an area, reduce the frustration level of people dealing with the crows, and benefit honeybees by giving them more homes. It's not practical on a widespread level, but for particular areas, it's a more eco-friendly solution.

Teaming up with smart crows
Another idea could be to make crows useful, such as using a crowbox to train them to be city street cleaners. Again, it could be difficult to implement on a wide scale, but it would certainly turn them from a nuisance into an eco-sidekick.

Still, cutting off the source of the problem - easy access to food scraps from garbage cans - should be the primary focus. Not only would it improve sanitation, but it could reduce the amount of funds spent on keeping the crow population at bay, the government budget for which is currently at $700,000 - about $50 per crow killed.

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More on Crows
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CrowBox Wants You to Train Crows To Clean the Planet. Seriously.
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New York Takes First Steps To Legalize Beekeeping

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