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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Vertebrate pests of beekeeping


Information concerning vertebrate pests of beekeeping was gathered from state and provincial apiary inspectors through a questionnaire. Forty-eight states and 9 provinces responded. Additional pest information has been assembled from published articles. Bears represent the major vertebrate pest based on severity of damage to colonies. Total estimated losses reported amounted to $623,000 annually. Loss estimates for the various pest species are probably grossly underestimated because many states with problems could not or did not provide loss estimates. Skunks and house mice represent the next most important species from a damage point of view, with annual damage averaging $423,050 and $100,450, respectively. Skunk and house mouse damage, although less severe than that of bears, is far more frequent and widespread. The principal method of damage prevention is the use of electric fencing for bears while trapping is the most used method for control of skunks. Exclusion is considered the best means of resolving house mouse problems. These and a variety of minor vertebrate pests are discussed along with methods or techniques used for their prevention and/or control.

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