One of the best reasons to keep honey bees is the sweet, golden honey you can collect every summer. Unfortunately, humans aren’t the only creatures interested in the treasures of a buzzing beehive. Part of protecting your apiary means keeping predators at bay. Mice, skunks, raccoons, and even bears can come snooping around your hives, causing a lot of destruction in the process. Keep your honey bees safe with these expert tips on how to keep animals away from your beehives.
Keeping Bears Out
Cartoons have taught us that bears are natural honey lovers, and they’re right. Both brown bears and black bears will raid beehives in search of honey. They also feast on a colony’s brood, as it’s a good source of protein. Due to their size, bears can wreak havoc on your entire apiary, knocking over hives and tearing apart boxes. Bears are also persistent, and they might come back for seconds once they know your apiary is there. If you know there are bears in your area, be sure to secure your apiary with sturdy fencing.
Keeping Raccoons Out
Though less destructive than bears, raccoons can still wreak havoc on your beehives. These crafty creatures can learn how to open the top of your hive and reach in to help themselves to some honeycomb. Raccoons may also steal from empty supers that you have stored in the apiary. Keep these clever critters out by cutting off any access to honey or comb. Use a rock to weigh down a hive’s cover so that they can’t access the hive. You can also use nail boards—pieces of plywood with nails or screws sticking out on one end—to deter these and other pesky creatures.
Keeping Skunks and Mice Out
Smaller creatures like skunks and mice have an easier time getting inside a hive and causing damage. Mice enter the hive looking for a warm place to stay and destroy a lot of comb while they’re there. Skunks enjoy feasting on honey bees and will scratch at the hive’s entrance to draw the insects out. Using a bee hive stand will elevate your hive to make it harder for mice, skunks, and other small animals to access. As with raccoons, you can also use nail boards to keep mice and skunks at bay. Simply place them around the base of the hive. Predators will soon learn to stay away, lest they accidentally step on a nail. Just remember where you place them, and be careful when you’re working around the hives.
What clever solutions do you use to keep your honey bees safe? Share your best tips and advice for how to keep animals away from your beehives below.