A black bear saunters out of the woods and starts flirting with the edges of a yard. This Vermont bear is hungrier and bolder than usual because beech nuts and other favorite foods have become scarce this spring. The animal spots, most likely smells, a bird feeder in the yard and eventually works up enough courage to knock it down with its massive claws and starts eating. While there, the bear smells something equally delicious. Ah, the sweet juicy smell of HONEYBEES!
Does this scenario sound familiar to you? It does to a lot of us.
Last week, I was awakened at 2:10 am by a strange sound on the deck outside my bedroom window, followed by a chorus of intense alarm barking from our dogs. At the sliding glass door, I saw in the moonlight a medium large black bear standing upright on two legs and holding the handrail of the gate in its front paws, as if trying to open it. Even though I had remembered to bring in our sunflower seed bird feeder, I had forgotten about the hummingbird feeder, and the little pile of thistle seed! The dogs and I made a lot of scary noises and the bear retreated back into the woods. I had trouble going back to sleep that night from worrying about our bees.
Happy news in the morning! The hive was safe and happy. (Of course our hive lives in a "Safety X-treme" bee yard designed and constructed last year with the assistance of a VT Game Warden, and the many lessons learned from several bear attacks over the years, but that is another story.) This very hungry bear returned about 2 am every night for the next four nights, although its presence was sensed only by the dogs.
PLEASE whatever you do, bring your bird feeders inside each night, or stop feeding them all together. And please add a comment to this post, you can do so even if you are not a member. Let the rest of us know where the bears are active in your neighborhood, and what you are doing to keep your bees safe.
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