Bear crossing

The county where I live just erected these signs not far from my house. I’ve always known bears were in the area, but somehow the signs make them seem more immediate, more of a threat. So far, no bears have attacked my apiary, but you never know. There is a first time for everything.

Bear-crossing
Are the signs meant for the drivers, the bears, or the bees? Photo © Rich Davis.

Comments

Bill
Reply

Quite a few years back now, I had a sow with three cubs visit my bird feeders and then the apiary. As I was getting my morning coffee ready, I glanced out the kitchen window to see my bird feeder pulled down off the fence post it was attached too. I immediately stepped outside so I could see the hives a hundred yards off. And there she was with cubs in tow. Right through the electric fence she went and then took out three of my hives. She apparently had gone back and forth a few times, as I found the leftover frames in the tree line another 30 yards off. A shotgun blast and two dogs bolting out of the house in her direction was enough for her to beat feet elsewhere. She never came back. I was able to rescue two of the hives with a little brood help from the other hives not damaged. The lost hive ended up queenless and most of the workers laying a waste in the damp grass.

Anubis Bard
Reply

I’m glad to be keeping bees in Rhode Island rather than in my home state of Pennsylvania. Here, though very occasionally a young bear will show up in the state, they really aren’t a factor. (Did I just write that? Am I asking for trouble?)

Nick
Reply

Anubis Bard, some background on Pennsylvania black bear populations. http://cookforest.com/articles/livingwithblackbears/blackbears.cfm

If you have hives out in the woods, plan on bears. If you have a couple of miles of ‘civilization’ between you and the woods bears will be a very rare sighting. They are less inclined to urbanize than raccoons or coyotes or even deer.

Check with your local game department’s biologist for more information specific to you specific situation.

Nick
Kent WA

angry_bee_honey
Reply

Ugh! Yes Anubis Bard, I think you are asking for trouble. That bear last year in Rhode Island (my hives are in Glocester, RI) covered almost the entire state! I think I’d poop my pants if I ever encountered one at my hives :0

Marian from Maryland
Reply

Two bears were spotted TODAY only 2 miles from my apiary. Yikes! Shopping for an electric fence. Any recommendations?

Nick
Reply

Robert,

I really thought that was a spoof. I mean, it HAD to be!! Right?

But, then there’s the followup YouTube that … well, here it is.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JB1yEcdomt0

This was ummm… ‘Not a drill’

Nick
Kent, WA

navi
Reply

Greetings Rusty,

I have to say I’ve seen more than my fair share of bear roaming around the forty here in NW Wisconsin and have only had one incident that caused damage to a hive. I was fortunate one afternoon to be looking out across the hayfield when I spotted a yearling bear heading toward the hives. Grabbing a boom-stick (not a broom stick), I went to see if the fencer was going to do its job or see if the yearling had any tricks up his sleeve. I got to the apiary before Winnie-the-Pooh, so I hid behind some bushes and waited patiently. I was looking around thinking he had decided on a different destination but next thing I knew he was within 15 feet of me. Then I got to witness a most beautiful thing: He walked up to the electric fence (I have to add a little something. Every spring I take strips of aluminum foil and slobber peanut butter on them. Then I wrap the foil around the fence. I space these strips about every 15 ft on all three strands of the fence.), and slowly stuck his tongue out to give the peanut butter a good lick. Bam! He took off like a rocket making some sort of bellowing noise. It was awesome. All that to say, get the fencer with the most amount of kick. I use a hundred-mile weed burner. Its enough to make me howl and drop to my knees. I wonder if the bears snicker when this happens? Oh, don’t forget the peanut butter.

Hafiz
Reply

Please tell me that is not a picture from today. We are in the middle of a arctic invasion here in jersey with nothing green around : (

Rusty
Reply

Hafiz,

The photo is a few weeks old.

nick
Reply

Excuse my ignorance, but are bears dangerous to humans in the normal course of things?

Rusty
Reply

Nick,

Not usually. Normally they will move away from humans, but if you accidentally get between a mother and her offspring, they can kill you with a single blow. And there’s no out-running them. They look slow and cumbersome but are not.

tim eisele
Reply

Marian: Yes. I have several recommendations.

1. Get the peppiest fencer unit you can buy. One that puts out at least a joule per pulse, and that is rated for a couple miles of fence. If there is a building with electrical service nearby, use a plug-in model, as they have more juice available and are less hassle than a solar/battery unit. Incidentally, if your apiary is up to a few hundred feet from the nearest electrical outlet, one thing you can do is put in tall posts (tall enough to walk under the wire) and run an overhead high-voltage wire from the fencer unit to the fence (the voltage is high enough that you can run the power quite a long way, while running a long extension cord to power the fence would be impractical). Oh, and get a lightning arrestor for it. I had my electric fence struck by lightning once, and it burned out the fencer unit.

2. Put in a multi-strand fence. If you put in a single strand, the bear will just put their head down and slip under it. I like at least 3 strands, spaced a foot apart, with posts about every 6 feet.

3. I also put up a second fence, about two feet outside of the electric fence. This second fence is two or three strands of barbed wire mounted to steel T-posts. The idea is that, first, the barbed wire slows down the bear so that it can’t just charge the electric fence and break through between pulses. And second, if the bear does try to go through, it will be thoroughly grounded by the barbed wire, so that when it touches the electric strands it will get the full benefit.

This multi-layer fence has worked well for me. I’ve had a couple of occasions where a bear went through a pure electric fence, but I have yet to have one go through the barbed wire/electric combination.

An additional thing you can do if there is definitely a bear sniffing around, is to hang bacon strips over the electric fence (or hang a perforated tin of some sort of canned meat from the fence by a wire). Then when the bear tries to eat it off of the fence wire, it will get the charge of its life right in its sensitive mouth. But this is more a thing to do if you’ve already spotted a bear in the vicinity and want some insurance.

Sheila Retherford
Reply

No bears visiting my fields, but I found mouseguards have been removed from 3 of my hives…possums? raccoons? I’ll be checking the hives more thoroughly this weekend.

Rusty
Reply

Or skunks?

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