A beekeeper in Turkey’s Black Sea-adjacent province of Trabzon, frustrated that local bears kept on stealing and consuming his precious honey, apparently set up a nighttime taste test for the purposes of determining which products the bears prefer, per numerous reports in Turkish media over the past week.
The beekeeper in question, Ibrahim Sedef, had reportedly lost thousands of dollars of honey over the years to the bears — despite measures such as sealing his beehives in metal containers and leaving out alternative snacks for the bears in the hope they would eat those instead. (Far be it from us to question Sedef’s logic here, but perhaps making the ursine buffet even more varied was not the best move.)
So Sedef left some honey in labelled containers overnight with a night-vision camera recording and… uh…
Look, man, we’re just gonna cut to these good boys and girls chowing down on some honey.
Per Turkish newspaper Hürriyet Daily News, Sedef concluded that the bears prefer expensive Anzer Valley honey:
“Five bears visit me regularly in certain periods. They first come after the winter sleep around March 15. Then, they go for copulating and come back in November before the next winter sleep,” honey producer İbrahim Sedef told daily Hürriyet.
… “I put outside several kinds of bread. For instance, there’s a kind of Trabzon-style bran bread prepared with whole-wheat. It has always been their first choice among different breads. Their second choice is the sourdough bread, and their last choice is the bread bought from the market,” said Sedef.
“They eat hazelnuts these days,” he also said.
Do note that this is absolutely not a scientific finding. Kuzey Doğa Association science coordinator Emrah Çoban told Hurriyet that the bears probably do not actually care all that much which brand of honey it is and “Long-term scientific studies are needed to come to certain conclusions.”
Wildlife experts generally caution against feeding bears due to the possibility that they will come in dangerously close proximity to humans. On the other hand, a 2010 National Geographic article noted that black bear biologist Lynn Rogers had conducted field tests indicating that “diversionary” feeding of bear populations could lure them further away from humans.
This comes with a big caveat, as other experts told the magazine such feeding should only be done by wildlife professionals and when bears’ natural food sources have become extremely low.
According to Ahval News, the Anzer honey at “1,000 liras ($254) per kilo is among the most expensive honeys on the market.” Sedef told Ahval that “I changed the place of the trays and the tables, and every time they would start with the Anzer honey… I said these big boys know their stuff, they prefer the expensive and quality honey. These big guys sure have good taste.”
Sedef added that while he was frustrated with the break-ins, “When I watch the video, I forget all the damage they do, I love them.”