Do Bears Really Love Honey?

A brown bear with his long tongue hanging out
Becca Marsh
|3 mins read

Winnie The Pooh is famous for his love of honey, but is it just him that is crazy for the sugary treat, or do all bears love honey?

The natural sugars that come from honey are a nutritional bonus to many living creatures and beings.

Let’s find out if honey is loved for its nutritional benefits or for its sweet and delicious taste.

Do bears only eat honey?

A bear standing in a shallow river

A bear’s diet is diverse and they have a wide variety of food options depending on the area the bear lives in.

Generally bears that are omnivores will eat grass, berries, fish, insects, and smaller mammals like deer.

Bears require a high amount of proteins to stay healthy in the wild so their diet changes throughout the year to suit the seasonal offerings.

Not all bears have the same diet either; the spectacled bear is an herbivore so it is likely to consume more honey as its food options are more limited than bears that catch prey.

The giant panda bears diet is the most limited of all as they only eat bamboo! Only around 1% of their diet is made up of other plants and sometimes meat.

How do bears get the honey?

A bear on a log

You might be wondering how a bear will climb a tree and possibly extract only the honey from a beehive without falling or getting stung by the bees.

A simple solution, the bear eats the entire hive, including the bees and the larvae.

Unlike Winnie The Pooh with his well-presented jar of honey, in real life, bears will eat the whole beehive as it is a great source of protein.

Evidence suggests that the bear is after the bees rather than the honey itself as the bees contain a higher amount of protein.

If you touch a beehive, wouldn’t you get stung?

A hanging beehive covered in bees

Although the bears fearlessly eat the whole beehive including the bees, there is a price they must pay.

Luckily bear fur is so thick bees are unable to sting most of their body, making this tasty treat worth the risk.

Areas around the face and ears are where the hair is least dense so this is the only area where the bees can successfully sting.

Do all bears love honey?

A bear eating on a farm

Researchers claim that most types of bears will seek out beehives for the honey, but the black bear and brown bears are said to love it the most.

They love it so much that they will go majorly out of their way to get it, this includes breaking into farms.

In 2018 more than 370 beehives were destroyed by bears across Finland and Estonia.

They ate so much of the farmer’s crop that the government had to pay out $143,000 as compensation for lost and damaged hives and honey.

Not all bears have access to beehives due to climate. For example the polar bear living in subarctic conditions will never get to taste honey as the climate is too cold for bees to survive.

 

Research shows us that some bears do really like honey, but this is mostly because of the extra nutrition that comes with it.

If a bear was presented with a jar of honey it might be less interested in it as there would be no hive, bees and larvae from which they get most their proteins.

From this we can see that bears love honey because of the extras that come with it, by itself it wouldn’t be a nutritious meal.

Finally, not all bears have the same diet, so not all of them have a love for honey, but the ones that have access to beehives love it!

Did you know bears in the subarctic will never taste honey because it's too cold for bees in those regions?

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