Wyoming Bear Keeps Destroying Beehives, Gorges On Honey, And Disappears

A young black bear with a sweet tooth a Wyoming beekeeper has dubbed “Winnie the Pooh” has been raiding beehives in Big Horn County. The Game and Fish Department has set up traps, but he ignores them and then eats more honey.

Mark Heinz

September 15, 20233 min read

A young black bear Big Horn County beekeeper Kevin Clark has dubbed "Winnie the Pooh" has been raiding his beehives and gorging himself on honey, smashing the hives in the process.
A young black bear Big Horn County beekeeper Kevin Clark has dubbed "Winnie the Pooh" has been raiding his beehives and gorging himself on honey, smashing the hives in the process. (Photo Courtesy Kevin Clark)

Kevin Clark loves living in the relative isolation of Shell, a community with a listed population of 50 in Big Horn County, Wyoming.

About a year ago, he took advantage of all the space there to take up beekeeping, setting up wooden hives where bees can make a home and produce fresh honey.

Things went well last year during his first summer of beekeeping and again for most of this summer.

But since “Winnie the Pooh” started showing up, things have gone sideways.

‘A Bear That Loves Honey’

“Winnie” in this case is a young black bear Clark named after the beloved character from children’s books and animated movies. That’s because, just like the bumbling “silly old bear” that shares adventures with Christopher Robin and other characters in the fictional 100-Acre Wood, this “Winnie the Pooh” has a keen taste for honey.

“It’s a bear that loves honey, so the name was an obvious choice,” Clark told Cowboy State Daily.

He added that he caught one glimpse of the bear from a distance and believes it to be quite young, probably only just separated from its mother.

And with summer turning to fall and winter on its heels, Winnie is hungry. The bear has been coming in, smashing Clark's hives and gorging itself on honey before slipping back away into a yet-undiscovered hiding spot.  

Evades Capture

Winnie launched the first destructive raid on Clark’s beehives about a week ago. After discovering the damage and surmising that a bear had done it, Clark called the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

Game wardens came out and set a bear trap on Clark’s property and left it there for a few days.

But Winnie the Pooh was having none of it.

After coming up empty-handed, wardens removed the trap. This is the time of year when bears start gulping down all the calories they can find to pack on fat for winter hibernation, and the wildlife agents figured the bear that raided Clark’s beehives had simply moved on in search of other food sources.

But the meddlesome bruin wasn’t finished with his favorite honey stash.

“Of course, Murphy’s Law, he’s back again a week later,” Clark said.

Clark found another smashed beehive and knew who the culprit was, so he called Game and Fish again hoping they’ll take another crack at capturing the young rapscallion.

‘Just Doing What Bears Do’

Clark said he doesn’t want to see any harm come to the bear.

“I’m not afraid of him. It’s more of a nuisance than anything else at this point,” he said.

And he completely understands the young bear’s need to pack on the pounds, with what some expect to be another extremely harsh Wyoming winter coming soon.

“He’s just doing what bears do. He’s just looking for something high-calorie and delicious, and the honey from my beehives has been an easy target,” Clark said.

Even so, Clark said that he hopes Winnie the Pooh can find another buffet at which to stuff his face.

“I really would like him to move along now and leave my hives alone,” he said.

Mark Heinz can be reached at mark@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter