Sunday, November 24, 2013

Disaster Strikes Again

If you read yesterday's post, you'll know all about the bear attack on my hive. Unfortunately, that was not the end of yesterday's misery. Shortly after I'd uploaded that post, there was a horrible rumbling crashing noise that turned out to be a tree falling on our house. I'm ok, but it scared the pants off me as several branches hit the window I was sitting near. Thank God that the tree hadn't broken a foot or so lower to the ground -- I might not be writing this today.

As it was, my guardian angel did an awesome job directing the fall of that tree. It kind of grazed our roof, but it missed the kids' trampoline, our patio furniture, and outdoor lights.

Thank goodness for minimal damage.

Unfortunately, when we went outdoors to inspect the damage last night, we also discovered that the blasted bear had come back. There wasn't much I could do about it in the dark and the wind. Plus, shortly after the tree fell, the power company came by to turn off our neighborhood's electricity in order to work on the lines. Without light or water, there was no way I was even going to attempt doing anything with the bees. My husband turned the hive upside down over the comb to keep them warm.

This morning, though, I found that the !@#$% bear had come back a third time. A few clusters of bees were still alive, and it just wasn't in me to abandon them. I salvaged the few combs that I could and put them into a nuc. It was really hard, though. First of all, if you remember, I'd rubber banded the combs onto the bars, so I had to deal with those first. After I cut them off, I found that because the bands had sliced into the comb, the comb had a tendency to fall apart. Also, the weather was bitterly cold last night/this morning (in the teens), so the honey was super thick, gooey, and sticky. I could barely pry the combs apart, and my popsicle fingers didn't really want to move either.

Instead of rubber bands, today, I used wire stapled onto wooden bars.
I just kind of shoved that wire into the comb to hold it up.

When I consider how beautifully the bees constructed and organized the comb this summer, I'm appalled by the Frankenhive I've cobbled together. How I hope that bear chokes on the rubber bands I used yesterday!

I have no idea if I have a queen. Even if I do, I doubt that the bees will make it. There is so much empty space in that nuc that even in the garage (where I've stored them for now), I don't see how they'll be able to keep it warm. I suppose this is where I made my mistake. I probably should have put them into the nuc and into the garage yesterday.

If I can't come up with some kind of workable solution to the bear issue, I'm considering giving up the bees. I just can't lose all my bees again. After all the time, energy, and love I've poured into them, yesterday broke my heart.

I've just learned that my part of the state is one of the most heavily bear-infested areas there is. However, I also live in suburbia, and I'm reluctant to install an electric fence. Firstly, I have lots of kids in my yard, and I can only imagine how pissed off some parents would be if their kid got shocked. Secondly, my neighborhood is the kind where I don't think the neighbors would appreciate the aesthetics of an electric fence. There is a guy down the road who has chickens, and I've heard rumblings from some people about "The Beverly Hillbillies" down the road.

So now, I'm looking for advice. Do you have any ideas for how to deter/manage bear attacks? For example, I'm considering much smaller hives. Although swarming would be more of an issue, I could possibly store them in an outdoor shed area in the winter. I don't know. What do you think?


  1. I'm planning on having some TBH in Oklahoma this upcoming spring. I will not be residing on the property and there are bears in the area. I was planning on fencing my apiary with hog fence panels. There are some attractive designs out there to fit in a suburban environment. Main thing - sorry for your loss. Hope they make it...

    1. Thanks for your condolences. Glad to hear that you are fencing your apiary! Thanks for the tip about the hog fence panels -- will definitely research that!

  2. Wow, thats a bummer. I had that problem about ten years ago...really bad thing to wake up too...Matt

  3. It's electric horse fencing that looks like rope. There is copper wire threaded into it. It's a very clean look for fencing (not hillbillyish at all). It looks easy to install with an option for long runs between posts.
    Best wishes,

    1. Hi, James! That fencing looks really nice. I wish I'd seen your comment a few weeks ago! I just installed a fence today, actually. May if it needs replacing/upgrading, I'll go with something like that then. Thanks for the link, though!


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