Data from the Environmental Board shows that bears have destroyed more than 600 beehives this year already. The Ministry of the Environment has compensated bear damages to beekeepers for a decade and compensation sums have grown in proportion to the visits.
If there are no dogs at the house, a bear might come at beehives even with the sun out, but they mainly try to get at what is inside the beehives at night.
"There have been 234 bear attacks fixated this year. Those are both beehives and silo balls. /.../ Bears have destroyed 608 beehives, which has resulted in the death of 629 bee families," Environmental Board chief hunting specialist Margo Tannik told ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" on Thursday.
A beekeeper in Harju County, who lost hives to bear attacks last year, said an electric fence is no match for a bear. "The bear pushed open our gate and messed around here. Pushed two hives over. /.../ This means quite a bit of unpleasant work for a beekeeper - you must pick up all the remains because other bees will begin to consume the spilled honey," Estonian Beekeepers Association board member Ülo Lippa said.
"And of course, the loss of a family - it is unlikely that the bee family survives after a proper attack," he added.
A new beehive can cost hundreds of euros, a family runs somewhere between €150-200, depending on the season.
Lippa said there can be a few dozen kilograms of honey in a beehive. The Ministry of the Environment compensates beekeepers for any damages sustained, but if a beekeeper has not done preventative work, €64-128 will be taken off the compensation.
"I submitted some €900 to the Environmental Board for compensation. /.../ It was paid in full," Lippa noted.
The state began compensating for bear attacks 12 years ago. The total sums of compensations back then were €11,000 a year, but that increased to €70,000 for 70 attacks five years ago and grew to €100,000 for 140 beekeepers last year.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste