For the Ballard Bee Company, bears are part of the cost of doing business, at least in the rural area. (Image courtesy Ballard Bee Company)

Bear helps itself to bee hive honey near Carnation

CARNATION, Wash. (AP) - Bee hives on a farm near Carnation were an obvious target for a bear that pushed down a fence and helped itself to more than 100 pounds of honey.

After the damage was discovered Wednesday, Ballard Bee Co. owner Corky Luster salvaged the two broken hives.

He hopes the remaining bees survive, assuming their queens are still alive. He also electrified and strengthened the fence to keep the bear from coming back to the farm where 36 hives are placed.

Luster estimates the lost honey, bee larvae and damaged hives cost more than $1,000, but he doesn't blame the bear for being hungry.

"When you have protein and sweet, it's just a powerful snack for the bear before the colder weather sets in," he said Thursday. "It's a perfect bento box for them."

The Ballard Bee Co. is a 3-year-old pollination service based in the Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. It has about 70 hives placed on four Snoqualmie Valley farms. It also places another 70 hives in backyards and on rooftops in the city. The beekeeper takes care of the hives and the property owners get a share of the honey for hosting.

Bears are part of the cost of doing business, at least in the rural area.

"Bears are something you know are out there, and we invest in fencing for that reason," Luster said. "It goes with the territory. We were caught a little off guard."

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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