Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Sad Homecoming

A beautiful oceanside morning greeted us as we began our preparations to return to Vermont. One last walk on the beach to check out the seals and it was time to hook up the Airstream and head on out. Last minute checklist to make sure the TV antenna is withdrawn and the footpads retracted, and a smooth dumping of wastewater, and we were on our way to I-95 north.

Traffic was light and the foliage color improved as we headed up I-89. Stopping at a favorite New Hampshire rest stop (Springfield), we had lunch in the Airstream, with the heater going, while the Vizsla munched on a couple of biscuits. Here’s a picture of Mary with the pretty view in the background (and the foreground.)

We wanted to get home mid-afternoon since I had a land trust meeting in the early evening. We made it through the tourist-laden streets of Montpelier and up our steep driveway. The house was as we left it and after starting up the water system, I unhooked the trailer and parked the truck. Then I glanced up at the bee yard. Chaos! A bear had broken through the electric fence.

I ran up to encounter a picture of destruction with parts of beehives scattered every which way, fences down and posts leaning, and a few clusters of bees trying to stay warm. One hive was simply ruined, with no bees left at all. Three out of the five hives were destroyed and one other had been moved off its base but not toppled.

It’s tough to see bees, who worked so hard all year to construct wonderful vibrant communities, uprooted by a bear. I don’t hunt -- and intellectually know that beehives are an attractive nuisance to wild bruins -- yet, it really torques me off.

I had about an hour to put the pieces back together, put up new wire and insulators, and shower before leaving for my meeting. I got one hive back together with the hope that it will survive since there were quite a few bees left. However, if the queen was killed, they’ll never make it. The other hive with a few bees has little hope -- but I put it together and will probably try to combine it with one of the two hives that were untouched.

We’d had a wonderful trip, a great time with our daughter and her family, an inaugural overnight by our grandson, and some wonderful scenery of the ocean and river and fall foliage. This loss ruined the end but it’s important to keep things in perspective. We’ll restock the bee colonies next spring and buy a new battery for electric fence. For the short run, we’ll check each evening for revisits by our black furry friends and hope that our newly strengthened fence will keep them at bay. Stay tuned.

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RG Coleman said...

Aww...sorry about your bees Dick. That's a shame!

GeorgeMuammar-WFP said...

What a shame that the hives are actually wrecked like that. We don't have bears in Italy but I have had a hive pushed over by a horse and one by a sheep (I guess, it was on a sheep farm).
However I am now getting my hives wrecked by CCD. The bees just disappear over winter. They were looking fine and low Varroa count, and after winter they are just gone.
It's a shame such a fine art like beekeeping has so many problems to face

JHM Consulting said...

Dad, I'm so sorry!! I have unkind feelings toward the raccoons as I pick up the trash....I can only imagine your current bear thoughts. Are you upping the juice on the fence? Can you put bells on the hives? Love you!