A hungry bear threatens your bees

Europäischer Braunbär An electric fence to deter brown bears (Ursus arctos)? The question may surprise some people, however beekeepers have been successfully protecting their beehives against destruction by bears in the Austrian state of Carinthia or in neighbouring Slovenia for years. It's a different story in Romania, where the bear population is estimated at more than 8,000 and contains many experienced old bears against whom such defensive measures are of little use.

Bears mainly only go for beehives in cool, wet weather. These pests are very well aware about the bees’ defences and do not their stings at all. Damage therefore usually occurs in the spring and autumn, only rarely in summer and, if it does, usually on a very cool morning or if the bears are extremely hungry.

This results in the following advice
if you hear reports of a bear in the neighbourhood, you can quickly install a quasi-provisional electric fence using AKO plastic posts (at intervals of 5 to 8 m) with three AKO wires affixed to it at heights of around 20 cm, 50 cm and 70 to 80 cm (corresponding to the posts). On slopes, a fourth current-carrying wire at a height of around 120 cm is recommended.

Bear defence fence

Bear defence fence
  1. Premium WildHog Polywire 
  2. Blue TopLine Plus fence tape
  3. Fence connection cable with alligator clips
  4. Signal light
  5. Warning sign
  6. Insulators
  7. E-Line Gate System
  8. Solar battery

In general, the following applies:
keep vegetation short, tension the wires tightly – the AKO fence device must be powerful. A solar device for charging batteries is recommended in exposed areas.

A bear can't be stopped mechanically anyway. This is why you need not overdo the strength and density of the posts. Bears hate the electric shock, but if they really want to get through the fence, even stable posts anchored in the ground every 50 cm won’t hold them back.

“25 years working as a bear advocate has shown me mainly the ingenuity of our most intelligent native wildlife, paired with their proverbial power. If a bear appears in the area, even a temporary electric fence is already a very good defence. If a bear really want to get through an electric fence, it will. But taking the fun out of it is often the measure with the best cost-benefit ratio. Bears love comfort and getting an electric shock on their wet, highly sensitive noses is something they really hate.”

MAG. BERNHARD GUTLEB – Bear Officer of the Carinthian State Government