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  • In 10 days Alistair and I fly from Asheville tohellip
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If You Build It, They Will Come

I have a visitor. While it should come as no real surprise, given that I live way at the end of a dirt road, in a forest, surrounded by a 350 acre nature preserve of more forest, I have to admit that I wasn’t quite prepared for my visitor. To begin, I wasn’t properly dressed, which is so important when greeting new guests, I’ve always maintained. Specifically, I was wearing my bee suit, like so. I was also wearing knee-high rubber boots. 

When my visitor arrived (we’ll call her “Maude”, or, on the chance that this might be a male guest, “Seymour”), I had just finished working in my bee hives. I was enjoying the late afternoon summer breeze and waning sunlight. Suddenly, my dogs were in hot pursuit of something, dashing up the mountain. I lumbered after them, rappelling myself up a steep embankment, grabbing onto skinny, slippery tree branches for support (still in my bee suit, plus gloves, mind you). 

When I reached the top, I saw them chasing a black, rather large creature towards me. I thought, “Oh, they’ve found another dog to play with.” This quickly morphed to “Oh, that’s a wild boar,” immediately followed by “Oh, &#%*, that’s a bear!” And so, against all the advice I have ever heard about proper bear-greeting etiquette, I fled, in holy terror. Fled is actually an inappropriate descriptor; trudged, plodded, and clumsily, heavily ran are much more fitting descriptions of my attempt to high-tail it back up the hill to my house. Like I said, I wasn’t properly dressed for receiving company. 

The long and short of it is that, yes, we have a bear. Where there are bees, and corn (our landshare farmer has corn planted in the field below), and forests, it is entirely likely that there will be bears. Black bears are really rather benign, as far as bear dispositions go. Nonetheless, its presence necessitated a trip to the Tractor Supply store last Monday to pick up all the fixings needed for electric fencing. Our friend, the mighty of strength and generous of spirit Lance Graves, came over that evening and tricked out our new fortress in no time. On his way out, he said the bear crossed the driveway, and, to his experienced eye, probably weighed 250 lbs.. 

The lesson learned from this experience is that urban (and especially rooftop) beekeepers have it made. Also, an ounce of prevention (and some common sense about living in an environment that bears share) is worth a pound of honey. Oh, and don’t try running in your Wellies; it just brings all those dreams where you’re trying to run and can only creep along frighteningly to life. 
*I didn’t stick around long enough to grab a snapshot of Maude (or Seymour), but the photo above seems pretty accurate, if memory serves me correctly. 

13 Responses to If You Build It, They Will Come

  • nicole says:

    I'm sure it must have been absolutely terrifying, but your witty retelling of the event is, well, pretty funny. The image of you fully suited up and running away in awkward footwear is a priceless visual comedy. I am SO relieved that you and the pooches (and chickens and bees) are okay.

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh My…… gets your attention!

  • Hallie says:

    holy wow…that's a great story for the grand kids!

  • marshall p says:

    oh jeez. that's scary! good luck, keep safe.

  • Yikes! Great retelling of your exciting adventure. I'm an urban beekeeper; bears aren't too high on my list of hive threats but I've often wondered why our bee ladies so viciously attach our giant, black dog. His nickname? Bear. They come out in full force whenever he strolls past the hives. He's taken to hiding in the bathroom when I'm opening up the hives…poor old dog.

    Best of luck with the electric fence.


  • keri says:

    daaaamn, skippy.

  • Emily says:

    I hope that Maude (or Seymour), doesn't bring backup next time they are in your yard!

  • sk says:

    Oh wow! Never a dull moment, huh? I think bears are good luck to have around…especially now that your honey is safe from them!

    Hopefully you'll get a chance for your own snapshot sometime.

  • KJ says:

    That's the first thing I read this morning and you made my day! Very well writen, I loved the story. I see a new book in the works,”Animal tales on the farm”. Thanks, I'll look forward to more great story's.

  • Anonymous says:

    Once upon a time there was a girl named Ashley(peaches) who sighted a Big Black bear on her land! Run Ashley RUN ! Kill you a bear like Davey !.Crocket that is ! ! ! MOM ! ! ! Post a sign “NO BEARS ALLOWED !”

  • Maude/Seymour's stand in is terribly cute. Although I think feeling in holy terror would be my response too.

  • Jessie K says:

    Wow, scary story!! Especially having to run away wearing a cumbersome bee suit. We also have a frequent bear visitor on our property in Virginia, except that instead of running away from him like most sane people do, my husband tries to follow him to, you know, see where he goes. I'm not sure why he does this, but I stay in the house. With the dogs.

  • But wouldn't it be amazing if Maude/Seymour ate a whole bunch of honey and snoozed in the sun and while Maude/Seymour was asleep, you tippy-toed over to rest your head against his/her warm, furry belly and took a little cat nap?

    That would be totally good.