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Living with Wildlife in Manitoba

Electric Fencing for Apiaries

For electric fencing to deter bears at bee yards, each fence must have the following three characteristics:

  1. Proper wire spacing - The bottom wire must be 8 inches off the ground. The next five (5) wires must be spaced 6 inches apart. Spacing the wires any further apart will allow the bear to get his head through the wires before being shocked on the front of the face. Tight wire spacing is a must.
  2. Proper grounding - Each fence must have three - 7 foot galvanized metal ground rods installed with about 6 inches exposed above ground. They should be spaced 10 feet apart, in a row. They must be connected with heavy gauge wire using clamps to attach the wire to the ground rods in a series. Bears have padded feet and without sufficient grounding there is a chance the bear might not feel a shock. Good grounding should ensure that the bear gets a shock every time, under all circumstances.
  3. High voltage - Most cattle fences have only 3,000 to 5,000 volts running through the wires. Cattle are exposed to the wires every day and get trained. Bears, however, only encounter a bee yard fence occasionally. They need to get a strong shock the first time. Bee yard fences need a minimum of 6,000 volts in the wires at all times. Most fences that are properly installed, have voltage readings of 6,700 to 7,500 volts or higher on the wires. High voltage - low impedance energizers with a short duration pulse are used.

    Electric fence to deter bearsReadings below 6,000 volts generally means something. The battery could be weakening and needs replacement. Grass or shrubs may be touching the wire and drawing down the voltage; keep grass cut low under the bottom wire. The wires may have become loose resulting in a poor connection; check your knots at the insulators. Regular checking of the wire voltage generally detects problems early.

If you wish to install an electric fence, step by step installation instructions are available.