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Bear Fences Help Beekeepers–and Bears!

Florida’s black bear is a unique species and a beloved part of natural Florida. But beekeepers know that bears and bees shouldn’t mix. Hive-raiding bears can cause thousands of dollars of damage and eventually destroy an apiary. A new EDIS publication, Building Bear Fences for Your Apiary, shows how to build effective fences to keep bears out. Electric fences help bears stay wild and keep them from becoming nuisances, and that keeps bears safe. What’s best for the beekeeper is also best for the bear.

photo of a bear raiding a bird feeder

Good Bear Fences Make Good Bear Neighbors

Both the health of the bears and the safety of the apiary depend on effective bear fences. In Building Bear Fences for Your Apiary, authors Kimberly K. Post and Cameron Jack explain that the fence must go up first, before hives are moved in, to keep curious bears at bay. If the bears get a zap before they learn about the tasty treats inside the fence, chances are they’ll give the apiary a wide berth.

But once a bear learns where the honey is, and the protein-rich brood, that bear is more likely to try to reach through the fence, climb over it, or simply endure the shocks and push through the fence. Then the beekeeper is in trouble, because once they get a taste, hungry bears will revisit and raid the hives over and over again. Bears don’t mean to cause problems. But they’re enthusiastic eaters and not known for their delicate table manners. Building Bear Fences for Your Apiary provides simple, step-by-step instructions and shows how to build an effective electrified fence and keep it charged. Learn how to deter curious bears so that they stay out of apiaries and don’t become destructive hive raiders.

More Bees and Bears on EDIS

Consult the EDIS website for more information about Florida’s unique bear. Several fact sheets describe various kinds of human-bear conflicts and how to handle them to keep people and property (and bears!) protected. New publications on beekeeping, wildlife and agriculture and a host of other topics of interest come out every week at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.