Bolting upright from a sound sleep, Glen asked me, “Did we plug the electric fence back in when we closed up the hive?” ummmmm…… “No.” The neighborhood dogs were barking ferociously in what we have come to know as their “bear bark”. Spirited response from our neighbors’ normally sweet black lab, chocolate lab and golden retriever normally drives bears back to the forest, but sniffing the honey and intent on gorging, the noise and havoc moved louder and closer. Earlier that day, we had harvested honey and simply forgotten to reactivate the protective electric fence hive enclosure.
“The bear sounds close, Glen— maybe we should just trust the dogs to keep it away.” I wasn’t keen for Glen to exit the comfort of bed and safety of our house. That bear would cause mayhem if it broke through the flimsy fence wires, but better to lose the bees than risk Glen getting between a hungry beast and his midnight snack.
“The dogs are slowing it down,” said Glen, and butt naked, slipped on his boots, turned on the flashlight app of his iPhone and walked decisively toward the garage and power control of the electric fence.
We live in the country among millions of acres of ponderosa pine, alligator juniper and a surprising number of black bears. Driven into our area by heat, lack of rain and poor foraging, bears have been marauding nightly, keeping dogs and humans on high alert. Glen, neighbor Caleb and I had harvested honey from our hive, to beat the bears to the hard-earned gold of the hard-working bees. Normally, wild critters are attracted to our neighbor’s place, sporting a pond, garden and bushes thick with raspberries. Last night, however, a bear made a beeline for our hive. Bears sense of smell is 2,000 times stronger than humans and 7 times greater than a bloodhound. Besides the larvae of the baby bees within the hive, they were pulled toward the honey we spilled around the hive and frames of combed honey in the garage awaiting extraction.
Which was why Glen ventured out during a bear incursion; to switch on that untested measure of protection while the dogs kept the bear from advancing our way. It worked! The frantic barking receded, and the bear made his way back to the forest, where he belongs. We gave special treats to our guard force the next morning. Thank you Rowdy, Charlie and Jade! Fingers crossed the bears find happier hunting elsewhere.