DO BLACK BEARS DAMAGE OR DESTROY BEEHIVES?
Early settlers introduced European honeybees to the United States and propagated them for honey and for pollination of crops. Black bears soon learned to raid these artificial hives and eat the honey and larvae. Beehive damage from bears is substantial in many areas of the United States and Canada and losses have exceeded $200,000 annually in some jurisdictions. In Arkansas, monetary losses to honey production represented about 9% of total production value but may have been inflated. Losses often include not only the honey, larvae and queen but also destruction of the supers and frames. In 1990, 72% of beekeepers surveyed in Massachusetts rated damage “substantial” or “severe” although damage was estimated at <$1000 per year. However, many beekeepers frequently used electric fences and considered them to be effective. References: Ambrose and Sanders 1978, Clark et al. 1991, Gunson 1977, Jonker et al. 1998, Maehr 1974, Sillings et al.