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.