Hungry bears raid Baltic beehives

European brown bear Image copyright AFP
Image caption Don't tell them about the honey: Brown bears cause trouble for Baltic farmers

Wild bears are causing thousands of euros' worth of damage as they raid beehives for food across Finland and Estonia, it's been reported.

While the image of Winnie-the-Pooh feeding himself full of honey might be an appealing one, the reality is rather different as wild animals come ever closer to populated areas to find food.

It's become a particular problem in Finland, with national broadcaster Yle saying some 70 hives have already been destroyed this year. In one case, Yle reports, the bear was undeterred by an electric fence and tore down two hives 100 metres from a house.

According to Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, which reports news for the agricultural community, over 124,000 euro ($143,000; £108,000) was paid out to farmers in compensation for bear damage to hives.

Image copyright Joe Raedle/GETTY
Image caption Authorities have paid out thousands of euros in compensation for damaged hives

It's a similar situation across the Gulf of Finland, where hungry wild animals are also wreaking havoc in Estonia.

Newspaper Postimees says that animal damage to stock and crops was so severe in 2017 that it has taken until the end of May to process all applications for compensation.

While the greatest damage was due to wolf attacks on livestock, bears in Estonia also destroyed over 300 beehives. They also have a habit of destroying rolls of silage, Postimees reports.

The Finnish Beekeepers' Association says that one of the greatest challenges is to prevent return visits from thieving bears.

Hives can only be moved at night when all the bees are back indoors, and the new position has to be more than three kilometres (two miles) away, otherwise the insects won't navigate their way back to the new site.

Reporting by Alistair Coleman

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