A Beekeeper Solves His Thieving Bear Problem by Making Them Taste Testers

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One of the taste testers at a Turkish honey farm gets down to business. Still from YouTube/DHA

Who can resist a nice bowl of honey?

Certainly not a family of bears living in Trabzon, a city on Turkey's Black Sea coast. Especially when they happened to live so close to a honey farm. In fact, the bears who snuck into Ibrahim Sedef's farm didn't bother with bowls at all — they cracked open the hives and slurped and burped until the morning light.

As you might imagine, that was a problem for farm owner Ibrahim Sedef, who, as Demirören News Agency (DHA) reports, regularly woke up to the carnage of a late-night honey binge.

Sedef did everything he could to protect his precious hives. He surrounded the hives with sturdy cages. He offered delicious treats like bread and apples, hoping to appease the honey-mad marauders.

But time and time again, the temptation of those sticky sweet hives proved unbearable.

"They identified the weak point of the cage, digging underneath and reaching the casings," he explained to DHA. "The bears became stronger by eating our honey. Now they climbed onto the hard-to-reach container, where they also ate the honey."

Finally, Sedef installed cameras, hoping to study their behavior and movement. There must be a way to save the hives — and keep the peace with his insatiable neighbors.

He soon realized these bears were among the world's foremost experts on honey.

As a farmer and agricultural engineer, Sedef needed someone with a refined palate to weigh in on the various strains his bees produced — a focus group, if you will.

And so, he began to welcome the bears — with a table laid out with four kinds of honey, poured into giant, bear-sized bowls. There was chestnut honey, the rich Anzer honey, flower honey and plain old cherry jam.

Anzer honey harvested in Anzer plateau
Anzer honey is made from 90 flowers that only grow in Turkey's majestic Anzer plateau. oflee/Shutterstock

The honeyphiles made their preference clear: As you can see in the video, they sampled a few dishes, before gorging heavily on the Anzer honey — which, at more than $150 per pound is considered the most expensive honey in the world. Indeed, no less than 90 flowers contribute to this nectar, widely believed to have curative properties.

And the much cheaper flower honey?

They left that for the birds.

And somewhere along the way, while watching this nightly feast, Sedef came to the sweetest conclusion of all.

"Despite all this, when I see the footage," he tells the Turkish TV station TRT World. "I forget all the harm they have done to me, and love them."