This is a post that I'm incredibly irritated to have to write. Not because I don''t like bears, but because I'm not excited about the prospect of having to protect my bees from Winnie the Pooh. We typically don't have to deal with this issue here in the East Aurora area or in places north, but we've had numerous bear reports over the past few weeks...and we had a visit to our own apiary last week.
Bears are largely harmless to us but can do real damage to an apiary. If you live in the Southern Tier, you've likely already thought about this and have protective measures in place. For those of us that haven't had it on our radar, here's some tips about protecting your hives from your neighborhood bear.
Bears eat bees, particularly the larvae. In order to get at the treat they're looking for, they will typically knock over the hive and start removing frames. This causes a huge disruption to the colony, obviously, but can also destroy your equipment. Many times, a single visit from a bear can spell disaster for an apiary.
Bears must be physically deterred from the hives, as there are no repellents that we are aware of. A physical barrier can be either structural or electrified. If you're handy, a bear-proof structure can be built to surround your hives.
Our solution to the bear problem was to surround our hives with an electric fence. It took about an hour to set up, and was up and running the day after the "bear incident."
Electrified bear fencing is different from horse or cattle fencing because it is comprised of a net-like fence. This is because a bear needs to feel the "zap" on his or her snout in order to encourage it to back away. A zap that hits the bear in the legs or shoulders will usually cause it to push forward, plowing through the fence and reaching your hives anyway.
Electric fences consist of the fencing material and an energizer that will power it. These energizers can be either wired, battery operated, or solar powered, and are sized for the length of fence you need to electrify.
We stock a variety of fencing solutions and can help you figure out what will work best for your apiary.