Honey thief -- yes, a bear -- strikes Derry Twp. apiarist
A black bear with a hankering for honey could feel the sting of rubber buckshot if he ventures onto a Derry Township man's property again — unless the scent of brownies lures him into a trap first.
Dave Akins, a hobbyist beekeeper, said he has has lost seven of his nine hives to bears living in state game lands near his home off Route 22.
After 16 years of tending bees, Akins said he's frustrated and plans to conduct a sting operation.
Akins said he was awakened by his barking border collie, Pep, about 1:30 a.m. Friday.
He ran to his porch and saw that a bear had pried a window from a garage door and forced open a door to get to the honeycomb frames stored there. The bear then dragged the frames, still dripping with honey, outside the garage, where they lay on Friday morning.
“He smelled the honey,” Akins said.
It wasn't the first time a bear has damaged his beekeeping equipment.
Akins, 61, a disabled machinist, said he suspects the same bear has damaged his hives over the years.
Two weeks ago, Akins said, a bear wandered onto his property. Two days later, Akins put up electric fencing behind the garage.
Akins thinks the bear tried to sidle up to the remaining two beehives because the fence was “sparking.” The bear apparently headed for the garage, undeterred by a motion detector light.
“I went out on the porch and yelled at him, and he just looked at me,” Akins said.
“I turned on the kitchen light, and he darted off.”
After an incident last spring, the state Game Commission set up a trap near his property — using a frosted brownie for bait — but the bear didn't take it.
On Friday, state police at Kiski checked out the damage to the garage and suggested Akins again call the Game Commission.
Wildlife Conservation Officer Brian C. Singer said he advised Akins to add more electric fencing and brought him the bear trap.
Because bears' fur and girth give some protection from a shock, experts suggest baiting the fence.
“I'm going to put some bacon on the wire,” Akins said.
“We can't give him permission to euthanize the bear unless it jeopardizes humans or livestock,” Singer said.
The Game Commission will provide Akins with rubber buckshot, a “non-lethal stinging pellet,” Singer said.
“Under these circumstances, with the amount of damage, it's one more option,” he said.
Bears desperate for food will risk their safety and venture close to homes, Singer said.
Travis Lau, Game Commission spokesman, said homeowners can file damage claims if they experience loss of livestock or bees, or damage to beekeeping equipment.
Of this fiscal year's $20,000 fund; $11,000 has been paid out to date, Lau said.
Akins hopes he won't get stung by a bear again.
Bees are an endangered species, he said, noting scientists' concerns about colonies dying off.
“We need them more than we do the bears, for pollination,” he said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Corbett rips Wolf tax proposals during Hempfield campaign stop
- Former Penn-Trafford student put on house arrest for drug sales
- Laurel Mountain ski plan needs more information, planners say
- One-day lane restrictions set on Route 30 in North Huntingdon
- Ligonier Township zoning officer resigns
- Greensburg driver charged after ATV struck on rail tracks
- Ligonier Township wants more info on cell tower proposal
- Greater Latrobe teachers, school board approve 5-year contract
- House 58th District seat candidates focus on education, taxes
- Rostraver woman, 91, injured in home invasion; 3 sought
- Greensburg seeks holiday parade marchers