Bears Like Honey

"Isn't it funny
How a Bear likes honey?
Buzz! Buzz! Buzz!
I wonder why he does?"
-A.A. Milne "Climbing Thoughts"

Summertime has fully bloomed here in Southern Virginia. And by bloomed I mean "has come out shrieking like a banshee with 90% humidity and a daily dose of thunderstorms." I dash in and out from air conditioned building to air conditioned building. And then I get into my car which is (currently) not air conditioned and my mascara melts and slides beneath my eyes and I don't notice till I've been visiting a friend and her husband for three hours and nobody happened to tell me. It's July, it's a thing. I tolerate July for several reasons, one of which is my birthday and the others of which are B) blackberries and C) fireflies D) fireworks. Without my birthday, blackberries, fireflies, and things-legally-and-safely-exploding, I believe I'd be all right to skip July altogether. I digress. Around the farm - we do have a farm, I ate sausage from our own piggies just the other morning - life is settling and swelling all at once. Settling, because the bees are humming about too busy to care about oneself and the fruit trees are nestling down to do their actual business of fruiting, and the hummingbirds have finally found the feeders my little brother strung across the front porch for them. Swelling, because the hives are getting fatter and buzzier and the fruits and beginning to look less like attempts and more like a harvest, and the humming birds go bonkers for sugar water.

 It was always a dream of mine to grow up and have an orchard. As I braved stink bugs and Japanese beetles and other gross things to get a bowl of berries and a couple photos, it struck me that that dream, at least, has come true. We do have an orchard and the fitful start of a vineyard. And a nice long avenue of black and boysenberries. As a child, my dad knew the best (only?) place to pick wild blackberries in Virginia Beach: a massive, tangled, devilishly-spiny ditch behind a Lowe's. We hated blackberry picking but we loved blackberry cobbler. I still remember the milk cartons with the fronts cut out into which we'd plunk our berries, the plastic still stained with juice from last year's berries and beyond. I always managed to wade deep enough into the brambles to fill my bucket, and also deep enough to prevent my ability to turn without cruel thorns digging deep into my chubby baby thighs. Dad would come cut me out and I'd trudge back up the embankment, scrubbing tears, sweat, and blackberry juice into my face. Life is easier now in that respect; we planted a thornless variety of blackberries. A sort of annual slap in the face to that patch we loved to hate to pick.

No, our problems are of a different variety now - a bear has been sighted in our area and I presume he's after our honey and our hives. I got the text from our neighbor at 7 Am in the morning. I stood there half-dressed, squinting at my phone and trying to make sense of her text that stated (very plainly, I might add) that a bear had run out from behind our house and crossed the road in front of her car. Funny. I'm not that concerned about seeing a bear on our property which is sort of unlike me and my propensity to think every cracking stick in the woods is a grizzly. We are blessed enough to have only the black variety of bears in our region and a black bear after honey (while devastating to a hive) is hardly as devastating to a human. But you know how I feel about our bees. No bear is going to successfully wreck one of my hives if I can help it. I'll...I'll...I'll write a strongly worded letter to the Game Department, that's what. After discussing this problem with people who either have hives that have been pestered by off-brand Poohs, it has been suggested that we finish putting up the electric fence to surround the hives and that we then spread peanut butter across the wires. Apparently the bear will lick the peanut butter and get a big shock on his tongue (the only fallible bit of a bear), and leave the hive alone. I only hope he's not working in league with a clever Christopher Robin. That would make things awkward for me, since I'm already partial to Christopher Robin and Poohs of any description.

In other news, we've picked and pickled peaches, trimmed the shrubs out front, scalped (and therefore killed) the purple basil, and otherwise are settling in for the long July-August nap. If we break 1,000 followers on Instagram by my birthday on July 20th there will very like be a celebratory 1k Followers + Birthday giveaway. So you know, we can make that happen. If we get too hot and lazy, though, that's okay too. I understand. It's July and it's Virginia. You don't have to excuse yourself.


  1. "Off brand Poohs." haha, my mom loves pooh. We've had bear sighted in our county (not grizzly but black or brown I don't know), but that is HIGHLY unusual thing.

    We have berries growing all around our yard, but they are not super profuse. We have the worst soil, we still have flowers and vegetables and volunteers (in the compost), but our flowers are a bit pathetic and the fruit production is basically "if you are outside before sister who eats all the berries when she walks her dog."

    1. Always a struggle! Family members who are quick on the fruit-picking draw!

  2. Aw, yay for a fellow Virginia blogger! :) And that's interesting about the peanut butter on the electric fence. Is it bad that I kind of want to see what happens? Does the bear get mad; does he take off running; does he think it's weird and try to eat some more? Haha.

    1. You know, I do wonder! And I felt bad for being so curious about it but now that you wonder I not inhumane?

  3. "Off brand Poohs." haha, my mom loves pooh. We've had bear sighted in our county (not grizzly but black or brown I don't know), but that is HIGHLY unusual thing.
    Thank you for sharing the story behind your inspiration for Enforcer's
    Pride. That must have been a rewarding, yet difficult job you had.