Turkish beekeeper finds top honey testers in local bears

A Turkish beekeeper in the northern Black Sea region has hit a sweet spot with his ursine neighbours after searching for a way to fend the local bears away from his beehives, Turkey’s Demirören News Agency reported.

Agricultural engineer and local council member İbrahim Sedef ended up treating the cheeky predators to a taste test of some of the world’s finest honey, proving beyond doubt that when it comes to the sweet stuff, bears are true connoisseurs.

The bears had been raiding Sedef’s hives in Trabzon province for months, and his precautions of surrounding the hives with metal cages and attempting to lure the bears away by leaving food away from the farm had not paid off.

Seeing the cunning bears elude his best efforts to protect his hives, Sedef decided to change tack and learn more of their ways.

The beekeeper set up cameras in front of a table on his land and laid out the four types of honey he had in stock in trays, leaving the cameras running to capture how the bears approached the honey trap.

The footage, shot over four months, shows the bears invariably making a beeline to the world-famous Anzer honey, which at 1,000 liras ($171) per kilo is among the most expensive honeys on the market.

“I changed the place of the trays and the tables, and every time they would start with the Anzer honey”, Sedef said.

“I said these big boys know their stuff, they prefer the expensive and quality honey. These big guys sure have good taste”, he said.

The bears did not touch the cherry jam left on the table as a control.

 The beehives, however, are still not safe from the bears, which Sedef says have found ever more creative ways to get their hit of honey.

This includes finding a weak spot to dig their way in to a container containing some hives, and climbing into even the hardest-to-reach containers.

“We’re looking after bees on the one hand and bears on the other”, said Sedef. “But when I watch the video, I forget all the damage they do, I love them.”

In fact, this good-natured beekeeper is determined to look at the sweet side of what could be a sour situation.

“If you want your honey to be tested, thanks to the bears you can get it tested without bias or favouritism and with the utmost attention”, he said.