“I wasn’t going to eat it. I was just going to taste it.” –Winnie the Pooh, Fictional Bear & Honey Connoisseur
Winnie the Pooh was a childhood favorite of mine. A cute, chubby, happy bear that was content with a pot of honey. What’s not to like? I still enjoy Winnie the Pooh, especially when I get to share his stories with my nieces and nephews. Now as I delve deeper into my adventure in beekeeping, though, I realize some precautions need to be taken against the Winnies of the world.
I don’t want to come off as a hater of the local bear population. They are truly beautiful creatures with whom we are privileged to share habitat. That being said, I just want both my bees and the local bear population to coexist together peacefully. As bears can destroy hives in a matter of minutes, I believe the smartest thing to do would be to set up a protective space for my bees to prevent any bear/bee clashes in the first place.
Bee Yard Plan – Activate!
After discussing this with several beekeepers I decided that a 16’ x 16’ bee yard would suit my needs. This bee yard would not only provide protection from bears but also skunks and raccoons who are in search of goodies, too. The yard fencing consists of 4 ft. mesh chicken wire and 4 strands of electric wire fencing, one strand of which was put above the chicken wire to provide more height to the fence. In total, my fence is about 5 ft. high and electrified by a Parmak Magnum 12 electric fencer. An old gate from my Grandma’s property serves as the final item. It seemed fitting as she was a friend to all animals and would have been fascinated with the ‘little beasties’ that would have helped her in the garden.
Set-up went pretty quickly (it helps to have your dad, cousin, nephew and, yes, a faithful canine companion.) Now it was time to place my hives. I located spots at least 3 ft. away from the edge of the fence so nothing would be able to swat them. I then made a level platform off the ground using concrete blocks and made sure that my hive entrances would get a lovely southeasterly view (the morning sun will be my bees’ alarm clock.) Now let’s get that electric hooked up!
Just add bees…
The fence, finally being completed, was a big weight off my chest. I’ve heard horror stories of people being left with completely destroyed bee yards due to bears so I really did not want to risk it. I also did not want to discount the power of a single raccoon or skunk amongst my bees. Overall, I’m very pleased. Now I just need the final element… bees!