The use of honeybee hives for the pollination of wild blueberries is increasing. Occasionally, these hives are attacked by bears in their attempt to acquire brood and honey. Once the bears discover this food source, they return on a regular basis, especially at night. Protective measures should be in place before the hives are brought in to the field, so as to discourage the first attack from taking place. When protection is put in place after the first damage has occurred, it is rarely effective.
Beekeepers often use electric fences to ward off predators. Many wild blueberry growers in Quebec build protective enclosures for the hives by surrounding them with woven wire fences. When the hives are rented for pollination, the grower and the beekeeper need to determine who is to be responsible for installing the protective enclosure. The size of the area will, of course, be proportional to the quantity of hives which need protection.
ELECTRIC FENCE (Figure 1):
An electric fence is clearly the most effective means of protecting hives from attack by bears. Its effect is even more important psychologically than it is physically. At a touch, the bear gets a shock which needs to be sufficiently painful as to not be forgotten. To be effective, the fence needs to be well installed. A decent ground is very important. When shopping for an electric fencing system, the grower/keeper should ensure that it is adequate for deterring predators. These are the components of an electric fence: