New Brunswick

Bears destroy 11 hives in quest for honey

At least one hungry bear broke through the electric fence protecting Marr's Sweet Syrup beehives and demolished 11 hives.

Marr's Sweet Syrup near Fredericton wakes up to destruction

After 11 hives were destroyed overnight Thursday, Tavis Marr set the remaining bees up in a new hive and hopes they will lay eggs soon. (Submitted/Tavis Marr )

At least one hungry bear broke through the electric fence protecting Marr's Sweet Syrup beehives and demolished 11 hives.

Tavis Marr, owner of the Fredericton-area company, said he was able to save only three queens and three handfuls of bees.

Marr learned about the destruction first thing Friday morning from his father, who kept the hives in his yard in Hainesville. Marr immediately went to survey the damage.

"They destroyed that whole yard," he said.

Tavis Marr says Marr's Sweet Syrup has always known bears might get into its hives. (Submitted/Tavis Marr)

Marr, whose company's products include honey, lip balm and body balm, said he will start three new hives with the queens and bees he found flying around the ransacked hives, which were in the smallest of three yards. 

The Marr's website says the company has 52 hives in Zionville, Nackawic and Haineville, and the average hive has about 50,000 bees.  

Marr hopes the survivors of the bear's honeycomb repast will thrive in their new homes and lay eggs soon.

Break and enter team

The yard that was attacked is the smallest of three yards kept by Marr's Sweet Syrup.

"Bears, bees and honey go together," Marr said.

He had lined the yard with electric fencing, but that didn't stop these bears. Marr thinks there had to be two bears to pull off the entry into the yard.

"We have electric fences on most of our bees," he said. "If it was more than one bear, the first bear probably got shocked and the other one decided to go in."

Always a possibility

Despite the shock of the damage, Marr said, he has been prepared for visits from bears, and this wasn't the first time the animals have ravaged his yards.

"We got hit probably two or three years ago when we were smaller, too, and they got three hives back then, and that's when we decided to get those electric fences," he said.

The Department of Agriculture is helping the company get better fencing to protect the hives.

The expectation that bears will attack the hives is always there.

"It is, it's sort of in the books," said Marr. "It's a when, not if."

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