Information on Dealing with Bears

 


Bears are a well known pest of beehives. We provide this page dealing with bear problems, not to scare or deter anyone from starting beekeeping. We provide this information to allow others the knowledge that many beekeepers deal with bears, and it is a problem that can be minimized.

A bee yard hit in New York. While the bear knocked over all the hives, it was not able to access the hives or destroy the colony. (Photo from Chris Harp - New York)
A strap system seems to be the best option without the expense and use of an electric fence. Photo by Ellen McGlynn.
A Warre hive completely destroyed by bears in Alaska. Note the smashed fence. The damage is probably from over a period of time like several nights. Photo - Larry Garrett from Indiana.
Information from the Virginia Department of Game & Fish - Electric Fence for Bears.
A nuisance bear ultimately needs to be removed. This bear was trapped in the backyard of PennApic member Ellyn McGlynn from Clarks Summit, Pa.
This is the same hive as pictured on the left. Eventually the bear will come back and try again. The bear was successful in tipping over the hive on this attempt. Photo - Ellen McGlynn

Best Advice

 

* If you use a fence, use barbed wire. You need something that will penetrate the bears fur.

 

* Use a strapping system. The heavier, the better.

 

* Do not give bears any reason to come on your property. (bird feed, garbage cans, etc.)

 

*Once they find hives, do something NOW! They will come back.

 

Special thanks to PennApic member Jim Stoner who sent in much appreciated informaton used on this page.

 

Bear Facts and Advice


*** Bears many times, are not after honey. Winnie the Pooh ate honey. But

      real bears really want the high protein larvae and brood. Many times bears

      will completely ignore honey supers.


*** There are several ways to deal with bears;

 

    1) The use of electric fences. There are many electric fences on the market.

        Most are 6 volt systems. If you can find one, buy a 12 volt system.

        They are much more effective.

 

    2) A strapping system. Heavy strapping has kept bears from destroying

        colonies.

  

    3) Scent deterrents. Milorganite and other scent products may help deter

        bears.

 

    4) Trapping and removal by game officers.  

    

***We do not promote or suggest the killing of bears. Large fines and

     prosecution may result. Contact authorities if you have nuisance bears that

     can not be dealt with as mentioned above. Personal safety always takes

     priority over any advice or suggestions.

*** Normally there is no reimbursements for bear loss hives through the state

      for less than 10 hives. Our state does not have an automatic payment plan

      in place for bear damage. There have been some who have been compensated

      for 1 or 2 hives. Please check with your local authorities. However, they do

      expect YOU to do something to keep it from happening again. So do not

      think you will get paid twice due to bear damage.


*** A bear will come back to the same yard night after night, feasting on hive

      after hive until all are destroyed. Once a bear finds a bee yard, moving the

      apiary is recommended. Deterrents are best used to avoid problems before

      problems occur. 

 

*** Bears have come in contact in recent years with bee yards that traditionally

      has seen little activity in the past. Bears are re-establishing territory in

      some counties.

 

*** Do not be surprised to see bears in winter when most think bears are

      hibernating.

 

*** Some see young male bears passing through the area. Young males travel

      many mile a day, sometimes greater than 25 miles, in search of a place to

      call home. Young males are pushed out by larger established males. They

      sometimes travel right past bee yards without touching them. These bears

      are usually not a problem. It is the established population that will revisit a

      beeyard night after night if allowed too.

 

*** Make sure bears are not visiting the area for other reasons which allow

      bears to come in contact with beehives. Bird feeders, dog food bowls, and

      open feeding by humans such as those wanting to take pictures, only

      compound the problem as bears become accustomed to humans. Do not be

      part of the problem.