Our resident bruin expert answers all your questions in our ‘Ask A Bear’ column.
Q: Do you actually like to eat honey, or is that just a myth? —Beekeeper Ben
Let’s get one thing straight, Ben: I like to eat everything. I’m a true omnivore, which means that from berries and insects, to fresh roadkill, to that half-eaten donut you left in your car, there’s very little I won’t gobble down. That’s why it’s so important to keep food stored safely around me. (Sorry about your sunroof, by the way.)
That said, Winnie the Pooh wasn’t entirely wrong: I do love honey. But that’s not the only thing I eat when I raid a hive. The tender, tasty larvae and pupae inside the brood comb are an excellent source of protein and fat, enough so that I’m willing to take a few stingers in order to get a taste. Fortunately, my thick fur and tough hide keep most of the adult bees from landing a hit.
It’s not just wild bees, either. According to Elizabeth Manning, an educator for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, bears will occasionally go right through electric fences to ransack beekeepers’ hives. Still, it’s a minority of my diet—I usually look for natural food sources when they’re available.