Saturday, October 25, 2008

one more (or so) bears

No bear sightings since last weekend when a mother and her two year cub tore up the hive on the hill on the right just as you come in the gate. They had turned it over a couple nights before but when I drove up on the tractor around 4 pm there they were.

They quickly ran to the gate. the mother climbed over it and her cub scooted on the ground and under.

From there, they quickly disappeared in to the forest where I could hear them noisily climb the hillside.

So, right then I spent almost an hour putting the hive back together and stacking it up. The idea was that I would put it on the tractor bucket after dark when the bees had stopped flying and move it down to the hives along the bottom road.

My intention was to put it somewhere where I could better defend it. A lone hive standing by itself is harder to put an electric fence around than ten hives sitting in a row.

So I finished it up, left the tractor sitting there and walked back to the house to get some more bee equipment, a bottom board, inside top and a new outer top.

I was gone no more than a half an hour but when I got back the hive had been torn apart again. This time another super full of honey had been grabbed and hauled up into the woods leaving one emptied frame after another.

A sort of honey trail.

In the escape the bears had knocked down the deer fence just above the hive. Throwing the box into the woods and taking a couple more frames up higher, licking them clean and then too throwing them off into the brush.

I followed picking up the mess. When I got to the fence and attempted to put it back up my hands got sticky. In other words, whoever had knocked down the fence (momma bear?) had sticky paws when she did it.

It took me an hour this time to pick up the mess and put everything back together. This time I put the hive on the tractor bucket, leaving only one box behind for the 'lost' bees to gather in and immediately drove the hive down the road and to its new home.

All went well, no sign of bears.

When I returned however, going through the gate, I flashed my light up at the 'pick up' box.

The box was no longer on its stand. While I had been gone someone had returned. Taken the box and scattered the pieces. The frames had been broken and thrown in all directions. And, what honey I had left behind for the poor traumatized bees and been eaten, with long bear paw scratches left in the wax.

Since then no sign of bears. I think a new berry has ripened. These aren't berries that humans even try to eat but then a bear's fall digestive tract is no doubt a lot hardier, needing to quickly put on a lot more winter weight, than ours.

Leigh Hauter

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