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Can a bear get to this roof?

 
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I put up my first beehive the other day and the very first night it was destroyed by a bear. I was pretty devastated, but I'm not going to dwell on it.

So, now trying to figure out where to put the next one.

I have a low barn that looks like this:



It's got overhangs all around, and an attached lean-to to keep junk and firewood out of the rain.

Could a black bear somehow scale a wall or log post and then reach around an overhang to pull itself up and onto the rooftop?

I know any question that begins "Can a bear do X..." is almost always yes, but does it seem very likely?
 
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I'm afraid the answer is: Yes.
 
Joshua Frank
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Sigh, that's what I thought the answer would be.

Is there a height I could hoist it into a tree that would be high enough that the bear could scale it but wouldn't, because he'd be too far off the ground for comfort?
 
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If the posts are the only access route, if you cover them with single wall stovepipe or other metal, they shouldn't be able to climb it.  Be sure to install the pieces starting at the bottom and overlapping so the joints face down and they can't catch their claws on the joints to climb.

I had a neighbor with a dozen bird feeders in black bear country and he had stove pipe on all the nearby trees and it worked.
 
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Laugh when I read this.
In Australia we dont have bears but from time to time Kangaroos may accidently crash into them, thats all.

But I did some research and found these comments;
One of the most effective ways to prevent black bears from damaging your beehives is to put up electric net fencing.
Electric fences can be charged with batteries, solar, or electricity directly.
You must keep vegetation under the fence clear, or else the charge will not be significant enough.29 July 2020
bee protection
 
Joshua Frank
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I'm reluctant to get into electric fencing because it sounds fiddly to get the charges right, tricky to get enough charge unless you're near a house where you can plug into the house current, expensive, and even then the bear is liable to run right through the fence, maybe getting shocked, but still powering through and destroying everything.

I'm intrigued by the stovepipe idea. Low tech and cheap. But how would you apply pipe around a tree, and wouldn't the bear just rip it off?

I wonder if it would work to wrap a belt of outward pointing nails around the trunk, for a yard or so starting just above standing height. I think the palms of the paws are sensitive, so maybe that would be too painful for the bear to climb past.
 
John C Daley
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There is evidence electric fences work.

We wrap trees with thin galvanised sheets of steel so there is a slippy pole effect for enough height to deter possums. It may work with bears.
 
Mike Haasl
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You just get stove pipe (single wall) that is for a bigger diameter than your posts.  Tack one edge on with roofing nails, pull the pipe tightly around the post and nail down the second long edge.  Continue like that up the post.  

The nails in a belt might work too but if the bear reached over it or got a claw on the belt (missing the nails), it might tear off the belt and accidentally ruin your system.
 
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I saw this thread title and said "Yes!" with a laugh before I ever clicked through to see the pictures.  I concur with the others who have said this.  A smaller nimble bear could climb those posts like a tree and be on the roof with ease.  A bigger bear might also just embrace the corner of the building and climb it like a pole.  

I knew a guy in the 70s who tried to raise bees in the Yukon River valley.  He struggled with them freezing out but eventually solved that.  But bears kept eating his hives.

Eventually he built a traditional log trapper's cache just for his bee hives.  That's a tall (as much as nine or ten feet) platform held up with four long log legs, with sheet steel (typically flattened fuel cans or newspaper press plate, in the old traditions) wrapped around the legs.  For food storage, a tiny log cabin goes on the platform, to keep out more nimble climbers (wolverine, martin, squirrels) and flyers (ravens and gulls).  Perhaps not needed for bee hives, although it might aid in environmental control.

It's what I would try in bear country.  Here's the one built by the famous Dick Proenneke (source):



 
Douglas Alpenstock
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^^That is awesome.^^^
 
Joshua Frank
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John C Daley wrote:There is evidence electric fences work.



I think they probably work really well in many situations. It's just a big up front cost and effort, and it's easy to get wrong, and experimentation is difficult when failure is so expensive (i.e. you lose bees and hives, possibly all of them).

We wrap trees with thin galvanised sheets of steel so there is a slippy pole effect for enough height to deter possums. It may work with bears.



How do you attach the sheets to the trees securely but without damaging the trees?
 
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Joshua Frank wrote:

John C Daley wrote:There is evidence electric fences work.



I think they probably work really well in many situations. It's just a big up front cost and effort, and it's easy to get wrong, and experimentation is difficult when failure is so expensive (i.e. you lose bees and hives, possibly all of them).

We wrap trees with thin galvanised sheets of steel so there is a slippy pole effect for enough height to deter possums. It may work with bears.



How do you attach the sheets to the trees securely but without damaging the trees?



You can just wrap it around and nail it along the seam.  The nails won't hurt the tree.
 
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Joshua Frank wrote:How do you attach the sheets to the trees securely but without damaging the trees?


I think there are a couple ways.  Most people just nail into the tree which may very well do some damage.

One way to avoid damage depends on the thickness of the tree bark.  Just use short enough nails that it doesn't penetrate the bark.

Another way is to drill holes in the metal at the right places and pop rivet it to itself to form a sleeve around the tree.  As the tree grows you'll probably need to readjust.

A third way would be to rely upon the stove pipe's flexible nature to wrap around the tree and hold itself on.  Maybe two 6" stove pipes on an 8" tree.  They might slide down so I'm not sure how well this would work.

A fourth way would be to attach some wood blocks to the tree with a rubber/stretchy cord.  Then nail the stovepipe to those wood blocks.  The cord would stretch as the tree grows so it doesn't get girdled.
 
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Another option is anything that works like caltrops.

One method I have seen used in bear country to obviate access to doors and windows is to fill a 4' x 8' sheet of ply with the longest galvanized nail you can shoot out of a gun or can nail into the sheet, but not so densely that you get a carpet-of-nails effect. Close enough together that a bear paw couldn't come down without being punctured would do. The sheet is then placed with enough of its kind around where you need to restrict access, points-up. Not the kindest solution, but it's one used by people in bear country for whom an oursine visitor would mean starvation or death.

Personally, I would prefer something that rolls up, like that diamond mesh geotextile. If you could have a spike protruding up at every intersection, you could deploy rolls for a season, covering with mulch first, and then allowing whatever grasses or forbs could manage grow through it. It probably wouldn't take too many steps to make a bear retreat back on it's path until the ground isn't bitey anymore.

Incidentally, I would probably make sure that whatever I used was secured to the ground. The last thing I would want is a bear charging in, falling down and rolling on the nail carpet, and having it roll up around them or stick to them.

I love bear. Lovely meat, if you know how to prepare it right. But I don't want anything to get hurt unnecessarily.

-CK
 
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A neighbor of a friend in North Carolina has a small area maybe 10' x 10' for his hives protected by a solar electric fence and it works well. I think it is the same kind I have which cost less than $150. He just has steel t-posts at the corners wrapped with pvc pipe and the fence is attached to that. I think he beefed the grounding up a bit and like me waters the ground during dry spells. My fence delivers a pretty good bite and suspect his even more so since it is for a much smaller area. I don't have bee hives or bears, just deer and other critters.
 
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I don't think I like the spikey nails on the ground plan, especially with grass growing through them.  Much to likely for a visitor, deer, dog, kid, etc to accidentally step on them and be seriously hurt.

But if the nails were off the ground on a pallet or low platform I think it might be safe enough for the innocent.
 
Trace Oswald
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Mike Haasl wrote:

Joshua Frank wrote:How do you attach the sheets to the trees securely but without damaging the trees?


I think there are a couple ways.  Most people just nail into the tree which may very well do some damage.



I'm not sure about that Mike.  I have seen people that built professional tree houses that drill very large holes, sometimes up to an inch, all the way through trees in a number of places on a tree with no ill effects.  A nail going into a tree only affects the tree in a very tiny area.  A single maple tree tap damages a larger area than a half dozen small nails that it would take to hold a piece of stovepipe to a tree.  That being said, everyone has to do what they are comfortable with.
 
Mike Haasl
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True, I might have been overstating it out of an abundance of caution.  Maple taps are also removed so the hole can heal completely.  And those tree house fittings are hopefully SS which might help.  I think I've seen some pretty ugly trees from repeated nailing of metal to them but I could be misremembering.  It's definitely up to the person on how much they are worried about it.
 
Chris Kott
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I suppose caltrop sheeting could also be wrapped around poles, supports, or trees, or applied to vertical surfaces that might be used for access. Spoil sport.

I'm kidding. I have no want for anyone to become hurt unintentionally. The context in which I last saw this was in the interior of an acreage that was surrounded by crown land, and with paths allowing access all around. Trespassers would have had to do significant damage to get in to the buildings proper by any means other than by the driveway, which was well-marked as private and blocked off with a sturdy gate built into the Canadian Shield.

It just occurred to me, by the way, that my geotextile spike roll could easily be deployed around trees and then secured onto itself, with no harm to the trees. If we're talking about poking the last couple of spike rows into the geotextile to secure it, it would be much harder for a bear to swat off, and prohibitively painful.

-CK
 
Joshua Frank
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Thanks for all of these good ideas. I have a lot of standing but dead ash trees, so maybe I can use one of those, and then the nails aren't such an issue. Or maybe Mike's genius idea:

A fourth way would be to attach some wood blocks to the tree with a rubber/stretchy cord.  Then nail the stovepipe to those wood blocks.  The cord would stretch as the tree grows so it doesn't get girdled.




One thing I'm wondering about: is stovepipe thick enough that the bear's claws won't just puncture right through it and then it's not slippery anymore?



 
Joshua Frank
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Also love the geotextile spike roll idea. This could maybe be shortcut using some carpet tack strips, which are just strips of wood pre-studded with nails.
 
Trace Oswald
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Personally, I would use the stove pipe or the electric fence.  I want to keep the bears from wrecking my hives, not cause them actual damage to their feet.  And yes, I have bears on my property, so I get it.  In fact, our resident bear had two cubs with it this year, captured on our game cams.  I don't think it's necessary to hurt them to keep them away from places I don't want them.  They are generally pretty docile creatures, they are just looking for food.
 
Joshua Frank
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I don't want to hurt them either, just move them away from certain places. Ground mounted spikes could really injure an animal that put weight onto them. But my thinking is that is if you wrapped a tree with spikes starting above standing height of a bear, the most he'd do is get poked while feeling around for a grip, and that would be about as bad as a nasty shock from an electrified fence, unpleasant but not dangerous. I'm not sure that's right, but it's what I'm thinking.
 
Dan Boone
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The traditional cabin defense in the north country to prevent bears from tearing through your doors and shutters to access all the goodies in your empty cabin was to nail old/dull crosscut saws crisscross across the door/shutter.  It's decorative but it also deters determined grizzly-bear claw swipes.  It also used to be not uncommon to spike a bunch of twenty penny nails through a board and nail that up (nails out) as part of the structure of the door or shutter.

It's said to work pretty well ... against bears.  Wolverines, on the other hand, just get mad, and will if necessary eat a hole through your roof or any unprotected part of the structure.  They are also much more destructive than bears: eating everything edible, shredding everything shreddable, and then peeing and pooping on the rubble.  

I do not, however, know if they eat beehives.  I'd not place a large bet against it, though.
 
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