Lesson learned — if you live in bear country, install a high-voltage electric fence around your bee hives even if you’ve heard bears aren’t a problem in your immediate area. They can smell honey a mile away!
I woke early one morning to find my weakest hive had been taken down over night. A small black bear came back just before sunup and I chased it off.
I was leaving for a work trip that day, so did what I could with the time and materials on hand to secure the remaining 2 hives.
I moved them inside the 8′ deer fence around my garden near a motion detector light, strapped the hives to the table stand, created a 4′ perimeter bed of nails, and pounded in t-posts so the beds of nails couldn’t be moved out of the way easily. I also trained a Nest cam out the window so I’d be alerted if there was any motion around the hives. Not an ideal setup, but the best I could do on short notice.
The setup worked for a few days until a bigger bear got in under the gate, knocked out a t-post, moved one bed of nails, and toppled the smaller hive by pulling the bottom board off the side of the table. It got a couple frames of honey. Later that night it came back again and I chased it off before it could do more damage.
I’ve heard mixed messages about how effective installing an electric fence is after the bears find honey. I will likely have to move the hives far from where they are now in either case — not so keen on having bears hanging around so near the house, and the new location needs to be far enough away from where the bears consider honey territory.