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Electric bear fence installed around beehives.

DIY Install a Electric Bear Fence

Charlotte Anderson @ Carolina Honeybees, LLC
Learn how to set up an electric fence to deter bears and protect your apiary.
4.50 from 2 votes

Supplies
 

  • 1 roll electric fence wire (or tape, netting etc.)
  • 8 electric fence posts (or wooden poles)
  • 1 bag wire insulators (type depends on posts used)
  • 2 grounding rods (more if larger area)
  • 1 electric fence gate (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Select a Strong Charger
    Make sure you have a strong enough charger (or energizer) and suitable strength wire. This is not a job for a unit designed to discourage bunnies.
    A high voltage is necessary to have any chance of success. Most beekeepers use a charger with a minimum of 5000-7000 volts. I always look for one with a picture of a bull on it – you want a “bull tough” charger. A solar charger (one that uses batteries) or an electric model - either is suitable.
    Solar electric fence charger for bee yard protection from bears.
  • Choose Wire
    Electric fence wire is not very expensive. The most common size is 14-15-gauge wire. It can be ordered online or picked up at a local farm supply store.
    Polywire is also a good option. Any conductive wire will work. Some beekeepers use pieces of field fencing or cattle panels.
    Strands of electric fence wire on posts.
  • Prepare Insulators
    Insulators are plastic pieces (or ceramic) that hold the wires away from the post and are necessary for the fence to work.
    Plastic insulators can be purchased to use on t-post, fiberglass post or wooden post. Make sure you purchase the type of insulator that goes with your post type.
    Of course, you will also need posts to hold your electric fence wire up. Posts (wooden, t-posts or fiberglass) should be installed every 8 feet. The number needed of course depends on the area you hope to protect.
    Plastic electric fence insulator.
  • Visually Layout Your Apiary Fence
    When you are laying out your fence perimeter, be generous. The fence should be 4 feet from the hives.
    You do not want to encourage the bear to reach inside. Also, leave plenty of room for you to work in your bee yard! It would not be good to bend over and have your - posterior hit the fence.
    Also consider how you will access the yard. Unplug and step over or create a gate area that allows access.
    Plastic electric fence gate to allow access to beehives.
  • Setting Up the Electric Fence
    Install your metal t-posts (or other – usually the best choice- (every 8 feet) and at least 4 feet from the hives. Wooden posts are acceptable too if installing snuggly in the ground.
    You can use plastic posts to hold wire but they will not stand up as well to bear attempts. Still, they are easier to install -especially in rocky soil. Be sure they are not spread too far apart – we do not want the wire to sag at all – but rather be tight.
    Attach wires or netting etc – using the proper insulators if needed. The plastic insulator keeps the current in the wire instead of following the post to the ground.
    The most common recommendation is to use 5 wires 8-10 inches apart. The lowest wire should not be more than 8” off the ground.
    Wires 1, 3 and 5 would be “hot” or charged wires. Wires 2 and 4 would be ground wires that are not charged. The fence should be at least 42” tall.
    Attach your wires and grounding rod to the fence charger. Install the grounding rods and you are done!
    Now power up the charger. Use an electric fence tester or voltage meter -to safely test your fence – don’t touch it with your hand!
    Five closely spaced electric fence wires for bear fence in bee yard.
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