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Bears cause thousands of dollars in damage to Trueman Farms bee hives

Tom Trueman, owner of Trueman Blueberry Farms, shows the most recent destruction the bears caused in his bee yard overnight Tuesday.
Tom Trueman, owner of Trueman Blueberry Farms, shows the most recent destruction the bears caused in his bee yard overnight Tuesday. - Katie Tower

Bees used for blueberry pollination, honey production

AULAC, N.B. —

It’s been a frustrating start to the season at Trueman Blueberry Farms.

A family of bears has been stirring up mayhem over the past couple of week at the Aulac farm, causing thousands of dollars in damage to the farm’s hives and killing countless honey bees.

“We can’t recover those hives,” said Tom Trueman, owner-operator of the farm. “Once the bears get into them, there’s not much left.”

Trueman said although there is an electric fence around the area that contains the hives, that does not seem to have deterred the bears this spring. He said once the bears figure out there’s a food source nearby, they won’t let a couple of shocks from a fence and a few bee stings stop them.

The bears have been dragging the hives into the woods to feast on the honey stores and the bee larvae.
The bears have been dragging the hives into the woods to feast on the honey stores and the bee larvae.

“They’re pretty industrious,” he said of the sow and her three cubs that have been hanging around the farm.

He said the bears raid the hives not only for the honey stores remaining from last year but mainly for the larval bees, which are a good source of protein and fat.

“So it’s a high-price meal for them, two for the price of one.”

He said he has so far lost about 18 to 20 hives of the 350 that just came out of winter storage and said it’s going to be a long spring if this keeps up. The bears have been tearing the frames completely apart, leaving nothing left but firewood and killing the majority of the bees inside.

“There’s just no recovery,” said Trueman.

He said the cost would be simply too exorbitant to build a higher chain-link fence.

“There’s just not much you can do,” said Trueman. “They’re just being bears.”

At this time of year, the only thing you really can do is to ‘grin and bear it’ and hope the animals soon start finding other heartier food sources, he said. He also plans to soon separate some of hives into different areas of the farm, with about 50 or 60 hives in each yard, to get them built up for summer.

The Truemans have been involved in the production of wild blueberries and honey bees for nearly two decades. They harvest more than 100 acres of blueberries each year and also boast hundreds of bee hives.

Their bees are used primarily for pollination services, both to pollinate their own crops and to custom-pollinate other crops around the province. The bees also produce thousands of pounds of raw, unpasteurized honey each year which is processed at their own Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspected honey facility and sold both on-site and in local retail outlets.

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