Bears are definitely a problem around our area. There are a few methods used to deter bears from bee hives.
We now use a solar-powered battery electric fence. This has worked wonders for protecting the hives from bears, as long as the voltage is strong. This method may work well for you, but does require a bit of maintenance. When it is overcast, you will have to check the battery charge and determine if the high voltage is maintained. If the solar charger isn't working at max potential, you will have to plug the battery into an electrical outlet. This means that if you go out of town you will need to arrange for someone to check your charger. For some, having an electrical fence isn’t feasible. If you have, or are visited by young children or pets, you may want to consider other options
Another method that I am impressed with is encasing the hive in a bear-proof structure. Some people build “bear boxes” specifically for their hives, while others place the hives within an existing bear proof building, like a shed, a chicken coop, or a greenhouse. The entrance to the hive, or landing board, needs to be flush with the fence or wall with a hole to the outside -- otherwise, the bees may get stuck inside. Placing a hive in a structure can also help with insulating the hive during the winter.
Locating the hive on the level spot of a roof is another way to make the hive inaccessible for bears. When considering a roof-top hive, make sure a bear could not climb a tree or pole to access the roof. If you use a ladder, make sure that you move it away from the house when you are done. And remember your hive needs to be level.
Bears are a definite threat to a honey bee colony. We are all aware of the stereotypical pooh-bear-relationship between honey bees and these determined honey hunters. But, don’t let this deter you from enjoying the wonders of hobby bee keeping. With the right plan and action, you can avoid bear incursions.
Have your bear proof location set up before your bees begin storing lots of honey. And remember, a bear’s sense of smell is very keen. So, even if your hive is protected, to avoid attracting bears, keep the outside of the hive, the ground, and the surrounding area clean of honey, wax, and propolis.
Bears can be a problem, but there are many solutions for you to choose from.