Bears wreak havoc, force beekeeper to install electric fences
Local beekeeper Earl Barrett is not happy. Local black bears have been raiding his beehives in the Pt. Washington State Forest this season, forcing him to put up electric fences to protect his hives.
As he worked on putting up a fence off of CR 83 in Santa Rosa Beach on May 27, Barrett said with a bit of frustration, “this is the third location of boxes I’ve had to fence in.”
“The bears only need to hit the fence once,” Barrett said, as he explained that it only takes one jolt to deter the sweet seekers from coming back.
Barrett explained the bears get into the hives, wreaking havoc, knocking them over, getting into the honey and creating rowdy bees. The result from the disruption ends up taking days for the honey makers to settle down.
Earl Barrett is a third generation beekeeper from Point Washington. Son of Solomon “Otis” Barrett. Earl and his ancestors have been in the beekeeping business for more than 120 years producing wholesale honey for the area.
The family has approximately 350 beehives, down from more than 1,200 from years ago, and house their production operation off of Old Ferry Road.
Barrett’s bees produce several types of seasonal honey; titi, high-bush gall berry, Youpan, black gum and wild rosemary.
The amount of black bears in the Point Washington Wildlife Management area is not known. The last census of the area was done in 2002, with an estimated population of the entire Eglin AFB region (which includes all of Walton County) to be between 60-100.
Susan Carroll-Douglas, wildlife biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Panama City Field Office stated the population has probably grown considerably since the last census.
Black bears are the only native bear species in Florida.
To learn more about black bears (Ursus Americanus), go to: http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Bear_links.htm
Typically, black bears are not aggressive towards humans. For tips on what you should do if you encounter a black bear, go to: http://www.myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/Bear_encounter.htm