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A Sweet Bedtime Treat - UPDATE October 20, 2021

Chloe on alertChloe on alert

Chloe and her cubs Lincoln and Charlie Brown showed up at sundown on this late October day when hibernation is drawing close. It seemed right to offer them a bedtime treat that someone sent a few days ago. I don’t know who the sender was, but it was a box of nicely packaged honeycombs. This seemed like the time for a bedtime treat that would show me whether bears like honey. I’d read Winnie the Pooh and heard all the old sayings about bears and honey, but bee keepers had told me that bears raid bee hives more for the larvae and pupae than for the honey, and that made sense to me in a way. When bears raided hornet colonies, I’d seen how eagerly bears went for larvae despite the many stings they were enduring from the adults. I’d also seen how eagerly they raid ant colonies to get mainly pupae. I’d seen how persistently they went after the pupae despite the eye-stinging cloud of formic acid the adults were defensively spraying into the air. When they had most of the pupae, the bears quickly left colonies, making no attempt to eat the adults. Bears evidently liked insect pupae, so I believed what I heard about bears raiding beehives more for the protein in pupae than the carbohydrates in the honey. But tonight, I wanted to see for myself.

Lincoln eating honeycomb Lincoln eating honeycomb
Lincoln eating honeycomb

I offered a honeycomb to Lincoln. He licked it. It might have been the first honeycomb he had seen in his life. Suddenly, he showed more eagerness for it than I’d ever seen from him. Charlie Brown wanted it, too, but Lincoln’s aggressive eagerness won out. When his mother Chloe wanted it, his possessiveness again won out, although another factor was that she was distracted and on high alert about some unfamiliar sounds.

Eventually, Chloe and her cubs left, and two adolescents arrived. One of them was trusting enough to see what I had. Like Lincoln, he suddenly erupted into great eagerness. I let him have it and went inside to see if his shy partner would come back. His partner saw what the first one had and wanted to share. Nothing doing! The first bear lunged loudly and viciously at his larger partner in a stern rebuke, although there was no contact.

I know you already knew that bears like honey, making me have to admit that some of the things I prove to myself are not new.

Save the date

Save the date for Give To The Max Day on November 18.

The Bear Center will be kicking off this year’s Give to the Max day at 11:30 pm on Wednesday, November 17th LIVE on the Special Events cam. They will also be LIVE throughout the day on Thursday, November 18th starting at 8 am.

Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center

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