When you’re beekeeping, you should know how to protect your beehives from bee predators.
Beekeeping is a fun hobby with great rewards. You can raise a whole bee colony, and extract honey and wax. But what happens when your hive is affected by predators? From bears to wax moths, we’re here to help you protect your beehives from bee predators.
Beehives can attract a variety of animals, big and small. One of the most problematic bee predators can be bears. This isn’t the cuddly yellow bear with his hand stuck in a honey pot; it’s a wild animal looking for food. Bears are on the hunt for honey and the larvae, which are rich in protein and fat.
The biggest problem these bee predators cause is massive damage to the hives. Bears will smash apart the hives to get to the honey. It’s not only a loss of honey and wax production, you’ll also lose the money and time you’ve invested in your beehives. The best way to keep bears out of your beehives is by installing an electric fence. You’ll want to install the fencing around your entire apiary.
Obviously, you don’t want skunks on your property. You most definitely don’t want them near your beehive. Skunks are after the actual bees for their meal. These nocturnal creatures will seek out your hives at night, scratching at the beehives until the bees come out. Elevating your hives on a stand should do the trick to keep pesky skunks out. When the hive is raised, the skunks will have to stand on their hind legs to reach it. They’ll have to expose their tender underbelly to the possibility of bee stings.
Raccoons are smarter than skunks, and can easily get the top off of the hive. The best bet is to place a heavy rock on the cover of the beehive. You can also use a live trap like you would for skunks. However, fencing will rarely keep out these bee predators. They will climb the fence if they know there’s possible food waiting for them on the other side.
These little critters will want to make a toasty nest in your beehive, especially when winter comes around. While they won’t harm your bees, they will definitely do damage to the honeycomb. They chew through the frames and comb to create their winter nest. To keep mice out, install an entrance reducer. These metal guards have holes small enough to keep mice out, but big enough that bees can still travel through. You can buy the entrance reducers, or you can make your own with a piece of angled iron. Simply drill the guard into the lower entrance of your beehive.
Wax moths can greatly damage your hive in a short amount of time. They look for weak colonies and empty supers (the part of the hive that collects the honey), tunneling through the honey comb. They create trails of silken threads, encasing the hive. Keep empty supers in a dry location in the winter, and in a freezer when the temperatures warm up. You can also combine weak colonies to create a stronger colony. Strong colonies naturally keep wax moths out of the hive.