Ah, what a beautiful sight, you may be thinking — healthy hives, sparkling on the snowy Rocky Mountain Front.

But look more closely.

A little right of center, do you see that hive missing a lid?

And above it, the hive missing its second story?

And to the far left of the picture, said missing second story?

When Keith went out to check this yard last week, it was clear to him that something was very wrong with this picture.  That something wrong?  A grizzly bear, on a last ditch effort to fatten up for winter, which is clearly en route.

We have about 50 bee yards — each holding about 32 hives — throughout the greater Glacier County area.  A lot of those yards are fenced to keep out grizzly bears, which are native to the prairies and seem to be making a comeback, trekking far from the shining mountains in their modern travels.  Defenders of Wildlife helps us pay for these expensive electric fences, in an effort to keep grizzly bears from becoming a problem for farmers and beekeepers, preserving the bears and our bees, too.  It’s a good partnership.

But our fences don’t work too well when a foot of dense snow falls on them, tangling their wires and knocking out the ground that keeps the electrical current flowing steadily enough to set an adult grizzly bear down on its rear end upon contact.

This picture is of a yard where the fence worked – see the griz tracks leading up to the fence?  But the bees were just fine!

The Griz that got into the yard in question last week damaged 10 of the 32 hives, completely destroying three-and-a-half of them.  A half, you ask?  Yes, Griz ate half of one hive, but when Keith arrived, he found the other half of the hive balled up in a shivering cluster, so he put their frames back into one of the hive bodies, added a lid, and wished them well.  Somehow, a week later, they’re doing just fine.  Bees are amazing.

Bears get into bee yards – it’s part of beekeeping in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.  But we sure hate it when bears get into bee yards filled with hives that Glacier County Honey Co. doesn’t actually own.  Remember Jackie?  Those are her hives, and we feel pretty rotten that ole Griz decided to pick on her girls and not ours.

On the other hand, Jackie’s got some pretty amazing claw marks in her frames now:


Beekeepers do like their stories.

But this was one we could have done without telling.

Bee sweet, Griz.

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