Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Owls and Coyotes and BEARS! Oh My.

We live in an area of great natural beauty that is home to a wide variety of wildlife. We often hear owls and coyotes calling at night. Deer and wild turkeys are seen frequently and occasionally we spot a bobcat. There are also many small animals such as foxes, raccoons, possums, skunks, squirrels, rabbbits, chipmunks, etc. And then there are the bears.

Part of the appeal of living in the mountains is knowing that you will see bears in the summer. We learned a long time ago that you don't leave a birdfeeder out at night or you won't have a feeder in the morning. We also learned not to leave garbage cans outside. One Thanksgiving, a hungry bear finished off the turkey carcass we left in the garbage. We could see the imprint of his huge backside in the snow where he sat and feasted on the remains of our dinner.

I had not seen a bear this season and I was a little sad, but also glad they were not bothering my beehives. That had been a huge concern when I decided to put the hives in my garden. But just recently my daughter had seen several in the area when she was hiking and my husband came in and had seen one just a few miles up the road. I started thinking, oh no, I may be in trouble. Sure enough, that same evening we were out on the porch eating dinner when the dogs went crazy barking. I immediately headed for the garden and there they were - 2 BEARS headed right for the hives. Thankfully, with the dogs making such a noise and us yelling, they took off.

After all the commotion died down, we turned on the electric fence to make sure it was working properly and much to my horror, it wasn't working! (We only turn it on during the night since the dogs and I are in the garden and around the hives so much during the day.) My husband determined that the transformer had probably burned out and since it was late there was nothing we could do to replace it. I knew I'd have to rely on the dogs to guard the garden and hives for the evening. They did a great job and thankfully the bears did not return that night. I headed to the farm store first thing the next morning and by mid-day the hives were once again protected by an electric fence. I've never really been convinced that the fence would deter a hungry bear, but after working with it for a while, my husband confirms that it will. He's still glowing in the dark after being shocked. :)

August is a beautiful month here. It's just different somehow. The skies are bluer, the days are noticeably shorter and it seems like all the wildlife is starting to prepare for the cold weather they know is coming. The bears included. Jack, our big, black, flat-coat retriever has decided he wants to stay outside at night. Even though he can't get in the fenced garden at night, he knows he had a job to do. The bears are out there. You can hear them in the surrounding woods in the quiet of the evenings. It's where I live.


Kat said...

Lynn, I always wanted to live in those beautiful mountains. Your place sounds perfect and I love you bear/dogs story! We don't have bears but lots of other wild animals to entertain us and the dogs! Dogs are the best.

Barbara's Spot on the Blog said...

Thank God for dogs eh! They are certainly man's best friend. I hope the bears never get into your hives. I've heard that if they do, that they'll never stop coming back. We don't have bears in my area but a few hours drive north they certainly do.
I was admiring your seasonal garden photos on the right hand side of your site. It's nice to see the changes from month to month.

Anonymous said...

Another great post, Lynn! I wish the people down here in the foothills would realize that bears are a part of our world. The Winston Salem Police recently shot and killed one because they were afraid it would go on a citywide rampage. Sure they're wild and not like "Gentle Ben -- but still, like you good folks in the mountains know, we need to learn to live together. Hope all is well!

Lynn said...

Unfortunately some seasonal people here will start to feed the bears and then get upset when they become a nuisance. Guess who loses - the bears. Some have also been shot in our area. They were here long before we were. I'm doing my best to protect my hives in a humane way, but if the bears win then I'll know I was not meant to have beehives in the mountains.

Barbara is right. Once a bear finds a hive it probably will always return. We had more visits late yesterday afternoon. I've also been told by experienced beekeepers that if a bear ever gets into a hive, and it survives the attack, it's almost impossible to work it for a long time because the bees become so aggressive.

vicree said...

"Oh My", is right! I understand the electric fence offers a measure of protection for the hives, but what/who protects the people? Oh yes, Jack, of course! Good name!

Some years back when I worked for a vet, I had a chance to see and admire a pair of black, flat-coated retrievers. They were high energy, but very even tempered, quite well behaved. In fact,they were so special that they have stayed in my memory while many others are all but forgotten.

Paul said...

Once zapped on the nose, the bear will not try that again. I have a neighbor that works for USFS and he said that the electric fences really deter the bears. I hope this give you more confidence.

Anonymous said...

Lynn: Thanks for the word on my photos that accompany my posts too. That advertising experience is payig off...eh? :)

PhilipH said...

Thanks for your comments.

What a wonderful open menagerie of wild life surrounds you! I hope you get the electric fencing fixed for good; seems like a necessary evil to protect your hives.

I always thought AA Milnes 'Pooh Bear' was all fiction! But he really does love 'hunny'.

Not much is known by me about bees although I have been picking up a good few interesting facts via Barbara's blog. I often spend some time just watching bees in the gardens. Lately they've been diving into the nasturtiums that have sprung up again this year.

My neighbour, Lord Haddington, has a few hives nearby; he's quite keen on them. Wonderful creatures; the reported decline in many parts of the globe is extremely worrying.