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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,

I've read a few posts and am glad to have joined up so I can access all the experience available from the other members of this site.

My question might be simple to some but it is something I've been wondering about for a few months. It won't be a problem in the coming months, but we have an electric fence around our hive (only 1 so far
) due to a bear incursion on June 30th this year. I am wondering about the location of the fence in relation to the hive.

My question is how far away do you recommend putting the fence in relation to the hive? My feeling is that we have it too close to the hive right now, and that it would be a somewhat easy thing for a good size bear to reach over the fence to get to the hive, but I didn't install it and have no facts at my disposal to back up this feeling.

We'll probably move the hive to a better situation either over the winter or before the real spring build-up next year (assuming they survive the VT winter) so we will have to move the fence, too. It's a solar controller with that electrical tape stuff rather than a plain wire.

Anyone?

P.S. The bear won't be back. We had to take care of him or the hive would have been completely destroyed and we couldn't have had a fence in time to stop him that night. Otherwise, we would have let him go on his way. He visited the hive 3 times that night, and the 3rd time was his doom. Quite frankly, after putting the hive back together from his first visit, and enduring the stings of some justifiably upset bees, neither one of us was in a mood to be nice. After the second visit, during which he was scared away before he could get to the hive again (within about 45 min. of the first visit) we knew he had to go or we had to give up the hive. The bees give me honey and pollinate things, the bear just eats the black raspberries I like and pesters my ladies. The choice was simple although I would rather have had the fence to avoid this choice in the first place. That'll teach me.
 

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Hello and welcome VTBees. As long as the fence is far enough back that the bear can not reach it when outside the fence is okay, do you wrap a piece of bacon or lard sarurated cloth on the fence to make a target for the bears tongue? Once the bear "tastes" the fence it will leave the hive alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi power napper, thank you, I like it here already. I guess I'm not sure how far a bear can reach
. Anyway, we haven't baited the fence yet, but someone local said the type of fence makes them curious because they can see it rather than with a plain wire which is quite a bit less visible. I don't have a problem with baiting it though and I suppose we really should.

I am not sure when the bears actually start to hibernate around here, but I know it's after bear season...
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, MountainCamp. I suspect from your location information that weather conditions there are similar to ours.
 

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That'll teach you? Basically you shot a bear that got into 'your' garbage.
Until you have a secure beeyard you shouldn't have bees. Just like you shouldn't leave household garbage on the curb in bear country.
If a bear got into that it isn't the bears fault. But is sure the heck is the bears problem. I am glad you are asking questions but these are things that you should have set up while preparing for your bees.
 

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There are basically two kinds of bears. Bears that have been in a hive and bears that don't know what's in there. The former cannot bee kept out with an electric fence. When they know there's honey there they'll get in. The latter don't know what's in a bee hive and will not press on through the shock.

Just so you don't think that the fence is a cure all. And they shouldn't bee reaching too far across a fence.

Good Luck.

Hawk
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Gardenpro,

I was not trying to be flippant with my comment. You have a valid point, but it somewhat less than helpful as it is too late now to do what you consider necessary preliminary setup. Perhaps you published a reference book 3 years ago which I should have read before starting on this beekeeping venture?

I never said it was the bear's fault. I now have the fence and certainly should have had it when I was setting up, but everything I did read indicated that an electrified fence was the only thing that 'might' deter a bear, not that it would absolutely do so. I agree it was my responsibility to secure the hive and I didn't feel good about having to shoot the bear.

I have had the hive for 2.5 years without a fence and without incident except for the occasional skunk visitation. Sometimes one has to make choices about where to spend ones money and not investing in a fence was a less than optimal choice on my part which was demonstrated this year.

Robert, thank you for the response about the 'reach' of the bear. Since I now have the fence, I just wanted to be relatively sure that it has a chance at being effective.

Nursebee do you remember which magazine?

[ October 12, 2005, 09:04 AM: Message edited by: VTBees ]
 

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Laying hardware cloth on the ground under and just outside the wire footprint can help insure a good ground and stings them on the feet when they touch the hot wire. Barbed wire is helpful as it can get in past their thick coat.
 

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Bears use their noses to fine food. Whether it is berries, bees, or garbage.
If you want to have a fighting chance at keeping bears out of the hives with any success rate, then you need to get their sensitive body parts in contact with the fence.
By baiting the hot wires with something that smells, they investigate and get the message.

[ October 12, 2005, 12:25 PM: Message edited by: MountainCamp ]
 

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I'll tentatively disagree with Robert Hawkins, that once your bears tastes honey he'll go through the fence anyways. This spring a bear tore up one of my hives two nights in a row. After putting up an electric fence and baiting with lard, he left a sign that he'd visited one more time but didn't go through the fence. Of course that may depend on the personality of that particular bear or how hungry he is.
 

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To stop a bear that has already hit your hives, you need to use a bear's stomach and nose against him.
Bears are opportunistic and don't pass a meal or snack up often.
So, bait the fence and keep the hot wire tempting.

[ October 12, 2005, 06:37 PM: Message edited by: MountainCamp ]
 

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The forest Service, in conjunction with an outfitter in the west, has done a significant amount of research in deterring habituated black and griz bears. Fences are highly effective but as was said before, the bears need to touch their tongue, noses, paws to the fence. In addition (depending on which state's recommendations you follow), you need at least 6 thousand volts and .5 joules. In addition, most states recommend that you place hives 4ft inside of the fence.

The chargers that I have are 8k volt, .7 joule and are each grounded with 3, 4ft ground rods because the soil (sandy) tends to be pretty dry towards the latter part of the year. If the soil is dry, the fence won't ground properly.

I have my fences running off of deep cycle marine batteries. Regardless of which type of fence design you choose (and grounding system) make sure that you ground it well, besides getting the animal to touch the fence properly, grounding is the key to ensuring that it delivers an appropriate charge.

It is also interesting to note that on wild bears the Forest Service stopped collecting data (number of deterred animals) once they hooked a small flashing strobe light to the fences. Bears wouldn't come near the fence with a flashing light. The article that they wrote on the subject has not been published yet but I'll post a link to the site as soon as it is.

If you're interested, here is a link to some other bear fence research with some great video clips of griz. bears trying to get into food on the other side of electric fences.

http://www.nols.edu/resources/research/movies/bearfence_xl.shtml
 

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<I'll tentatively disagree with Robert Hawkins, that once your bears tastes honey he'll go through the fence anyways.>

Other considerations. Was there honey in those hives? Or was the bear just tossing boxes? I don't know anything about your NY bears. "The last Grizzly found in Colo. was in the 1930s." but some of our black bears are fierce enough to confuse some of us.

Hawk
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all the information everyone! Kamerrill, you included some great data. I didn't know about the strobe light, that might be another deterrent I should invest in. 4 feet inside the fence is more along the lines of what I was thinking about rather than what was actually done, which is more like 2 feet. My SO and I have had a discussion about that. He installed the fence while I wasn't home, so I was really commenting after the fact, which can sometimes be taken as criticism...which isn't my intent. I just want to do the best we can for the ladies.

I think our grounding is OK on the fence, we have 2 ground rods, I think they are both 8' and while the soil is somewhat sandy (near the bank of a brook) it stays moist almost all year round. We get quite a bit of rain most of the time. I don't know the specifics about the charge, but we are using a solar controller and my SO checked into the size grounding wire needed to get the best connection and discharge at the appropriate time.

The hive didn't have any supers on at the time of the incident, we were going to put the first one of the year on that weekend. A relatively local beekeeper (50 miles away) indicated that it had been an unusually good spring and that he knew of one bk who had a hive that had become honey-bound already because he hadn't expected such a strong spring. That is very early for Vermont. It had been warm early and often this year. We're making up for it now with all this rain. It's been raining for a solid week now. And the forecast shows rain for the next 7 days, too. That local beekeeper is the one who said he used the tape type of fence and hadn't had to bait it because it was more visible, but I don't mind doing so just to be sure. I'm pretty sure it was a VT bear not a NY bear :D we're closer to NH than NY here anyway. The bears here are generally shy. I startled one about 9 years ago, and was somewhat close to it (close enough for me!) and we both took off in opposite directions. He ran and I walked quickly because I had heard that one shouldn't run. I was looking back over my shoulder the whole time, though. I'm lucky I didn't break my neck!

Amish use strobe lights? :cool:

Thanks for the responses!! I really appreciate them.
 

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They are actually candles that have a wind driven rotating lens.

The critter getter uses flashing lights and sounds, but they get used to it. At least the bears hitting my dumpster did.

Don't worry Gardenpro, I have not shot them - yet. In NYS you can't shot them for hitting the dumpster. I would rather have them hitting the dumpster, than the hives anyway.

As far as the tape being visible, bears are active at anytime of the day. So during daylight hours, it may very well be visible. However, at night with a bear's poor vision, it is the odor from the bait that is going to get him.

[ October 21, 2005, 08:10 AM: Message edited by: MountainCamp ]
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, the candle makes sense and that sounds very ingenious. I hadn't considered the poor eyesight at night aspect. So, I think I have quite a bit of information to go on. Certainly I feel better informed than I was when I started the topic.

In VT it is against the law to shoot the bear out of season even if it goes after your bird feeder (for example) and I agree with that policy because you are putting food out there to attract wildlife. The wildlife doesn't know you only wanted birds.

A hive is different though. You aren't putting it out there to attract critturs even though that is frequently a result, so the rules are different in that case. Hives can be a person's livelihood (and from the posts I have read they are for many of you) so in that case, you have a right to protect your livelihood.

However, you have to register your hive in VT so you can apply for reimbursement if the hive is destroyed. If you fail to register, you have to bear the cost yourself. I suspect reimbursement is just encouragment for folks to register their hives so the State inspector can check them for disease, with which I also agree.
 

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Hawk, I was in Colorado from '79-83. A man was arrested at that time for killing a grizzley with by arrow. His claim was the bear attacked him and he stabbed it with the arrow killing it. Fish & Game didn't buy his story (if you can imagine) and he was charged for the offense. Think about that next time you walk out to the hives at night to listen to the hum.

The only way to defend against Black bears is to bait the fence. We run wire about 10 inches off the ground and a 2nd about 18-20in on fiberglass fence rods. Once they get 8,000 - 10,000 volts on the nose bacon and bees aren't so inviting. It is amazing how fast they'll hit once the battery is dead or the fence is down for some reason.
 
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