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Author Topic: Skunk Problems  (Read 2564 times)
BlueBee
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« on: August 14, 2011, 01:06:45 PM »

OK folks, I have a stinky problem.  The skunks have started messing with my foam nucs and my bottom entrance hives.  Never had this problem before.  What are your best tips for dealing with a skunk problem?  Too many to shoot or trap, so what other ideas do you have? 

The skunks are leaving my hives with mid/top entrances alone, but the bottom entrance ones they’re messing with.

BTW…low density foam is not skunk proof!  They can scratch it up pretty bad.

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hankdog1
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2011, 01:45:40 PM »

My suggestion would be to get them higher off the ground around 18 inches.  If they are still bothering them get a dog and keep it outside until the shunks have gave up.   evil
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LoriMNnice
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2011, 03:01:16 PM »

Coyote pee. sprinkle it in a circle around hives. The first challenge is to get the pee. First capture yourself a coyote and squeeze him or her to make it pee. Just kidding. Go buy some from the hunting store. I don't have beehives yet but this has kept the coyotes off of my deck. I reapply after rains etc.
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kingbee
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2011, 05:00:20 PM »

... First capture yourself a coyote and squeeze him or her to make

it pee...

I think I will just 'rassle' the skunk, thank you.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2011, 05:50:25 PM »

Coyote pee, interesting. I use coyote pee when I want to catch a coyote or fox or raccoon or bobcat or skunk and to think I've been doing it wrong all these years.
You need to use either food source modification (get rid of the bees) or exclude them aka denying them access. Raising the boxes may do it but slunk can climb especially the spotted. Fencing has to be solid with buried aprons as skunks are diggers. What I like is bird wire. Do a Google search for nixalite. Their stainless spikes tacked down at the entrance will put a stop to all the skunk nonsense, just be careful the nixalite spikes are needle sharp and you will bleed if you aren't.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2011, 05:59:21 PM »

You want premium S mounted on the box or premium H mounted on the bottom board.
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derekm
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« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2011, 06:09:45 PM »

I know nothing about skunks but I when started looking at building hives I originally intended covering the foam with thin (22 swg or thinner) aluminium sheet glued to the outside of the hive.
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kathyp
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« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2011, 07:30:21 PM »

would carpet tack strips work?  they are cheap.
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« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2011, 07:52:57 PM »

would carpet tack strips work?  they are cheap.

Kathy, I spray painted up the carpet tack strips and fastened to the front and sides of the bottom boards with the tacks facing up at the entrance, earlier in the season when I noticed the balls of chewed up bees on the ground. I then noticed spots of blood on the boxes and the problem went away.
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gardeningfireman
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« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2011, 08:12:42 PM »

A friend of mine used carpet tack strips with great success. I have been fortunate so far and have not had any problems.
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« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2011, 08:55:44 PM »

Raising the hives is not to keep them from climbing. It exposes the underbelly if the skunk is reaching up a bit to scratch at the door.This makes them more vulnerable to getting stung in more tender areas.
Many on here have lessened the skunk problem by raising the hives a bit off the ground.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2011, 10:36:39 PM »

Thanks all, I will start by elevating my nucs.  I just built a 20” tall stand for them today.  Will get it painted and into use ASAP.

My full sized hives with a bottom entrance is a bit of a problem.  Due to my odd foam designs, they can’t easily be raised up 18”.  What I have tried so far is some elevated fencing the skunks would have to walk through to get to the entrance as shown here.



This seems to help, but it is a lot of work to build these things.  I like the carpet tack idea.  I think I will give them a try. 

The skunks seem to dig in the dirt at the front of the hives and then paw away at the entrance.  I don’t know what the purpose of the digging is for?  Maybe they’re mashing up bees?

Derekm, no skunks in the UK?  I have thought about an outer protective material over my foam too.  However so far, I have not had reason to justify the extra time and effort.  Have you thought about vinyl house siding over your foam?  Might be cheaper than AL?
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kingbee
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« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2011, 11:53:44 PM »


OK folks, I have a stinky problem.  The skunks have started messing with my foam nucs and my bottom entrance hives.... 

Get one of those Hava-a-heart live traps.  Bait it up with sardines, a mackerel's head or some rotten eggs.  Equip yourself with one of those proverbial 10 foot poles, the stronger the better (more on this later).  After Mr. or Ms Skunk interns him or her self, and being sure to work from the up wind side, carefully pick up the wire trap using the 10 foot (or longer) pole and gently submerse trap, skunk and all, in a 55 gallon drum of water.  Don't you go wimping out on me now, why do you think skunks are called pole cats?  grin  Grab yourself a cup o joe and come back after 30 minutes. I guarantee you half an hour under water will wash all the starch out of Misuser or Madam Le Pew.

Skunks are a natural reservoir for the rabies virus.  They can carry and transmit rabies without displaying the symptoms themselves.  Skunks, both living and dead ones, can transmit rabies to you and to your family so do be careful.  A good spraying is not the worst thing a skunk can give you, rabies is.

Skunks are like badgers and wolverines (part of the weasel family) and are therefore opportunistic feeders.  If they find an opportunity to feed they will take it.  Do keep all pet food, especially cat and dog food out of the reach of skunks.  In the late Winter Madam skunk will often times commandeer abandoned ground hog holes and use them for natal dens.  Therefore controlling ground hogs (woodchucks) on your land may go a long way towards limiting the severity, duration or frequency of skunk raids on you apiaries.  I think I see 4 sights were a skunk has excavacted the dirt in the picture BlueBee submitted.  Only one of these sights has any relationship to his hives.  I feel skunks don't scrach at the enterance to our hives, in the skunks' little brain he thinks he is digging.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #13 on: August 15, 2011, 12:41:48 AM »

No need for the ten foot pole. I regularly catch skunks and not once has one sprayed me or in the truck. Used an enclosed trap so that the skunk never sees you and you tote the cage anywhere you want.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #14 on: August 15, 2011, 01:48:32 AM »

Good information Kingbee and David.  Too bad Kingbee doesn’t live closer; I would like a personal demo of the process grin  Just kidding Kingbee, you make some excellent points. 

I do have some live traps, but had not thought about covering them to keep the skunk from seeing me.  That’s a great tip. 
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BlueBee
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« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2011, 01:55:09 AM »

Yeah, you’re right Kingbee, in my second photo the skunk seemed to be digging 4 little holes under this hive before I put the light blue fence covered thing in place.  I thought that was very odd.  

After I put the fence in place, the dumb things seems to be crawling under(?) the blue fence thing and is now clawing the foam.  The photo I posted was from a few days ago.  I saw more scratching today.  That hive usually has a lot of bees on the landing board throughout the night.  

Let me throw one more thing out, I ASSUME it is a skunk messing with my hives, but I have not visually seen it in action.  We also have a lot of Opossum and other varmin around.
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derekm
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« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2011, 08:33:23 AM »

We have Woodpeckers and Badgers in the Uk, that go for hives. No skunks, oppossums, or bears.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
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« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2011, 02:40:33 PM »

I took a roll of fencing wire and made it large enough to force the skunks to stand up, exposing their undersides, when they scoop the bees off of the front landing.  After a while of getting stung on their belly...they left the hives alone.  https://picasaweb.google.com/111863660513010434468/HiveWithSkunkWifeInFront#
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2011, 01:46:29 PM »



BlueBee, is that an electric deterrent?  A Van De Graaff generator and the fencing is to give the skunks contact?  Honestly, that is an awful lot of work!  Do the animals have to be grounded to get the shock?

I always figured if I had problems with Bears, not that there are any this close to town, I would build a pulley system of some sort and hang them in the trees.  Bet it would work for skunks too, though I have mine on cinder blocks holding up 4 by 4's.  The entrance of the hives are about knee height.  The Cardboard on the ground is to block the weeds.

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BlueBee
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« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2011, 03:28:57 PM »

No the Van De Graaff is for my Varroa Mite experiments, not skunks.  I just happened to have that photo on photobucket when I made the post showing my anti skunk screen.

Now that you mention it, would an electric fence keep skunks and other vermin out of a bee yard?

CapnChkn, is that a robber screen on the front of your hive?  Has it been effective?  I kind of gave up with my robber screens and now just narrow the entrance way down if robbing starts.  What have you found works best?
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #20 on: August 16, 2011, 04:35:03 PM »

Yepper BlueBee!  That is a robber screen.  I made it in a frenzy, having problems with the robbers.  At least I think I was having problems with robbers.  In August of 2010 I ended up with a queenless hive due to robbing.  This year in April I had signs of robbing, but can't really tell you what caused them to abscond, the way they did, as I had SHB larvae crawling through the combs.

If robbing was the issue, I have had good success with the robber screens.  The construction is simply window screen in a frame with the full bottom and top open.  I have blocks with a single bee width opening to fill the top when I start them on it, then before they start gnawing on the hive body I can pull it out, effectively leaving a 3/8 x 10" (9 x 250 mm) opening for them to get in and out.

With the heat we get here, I can't subject the bees to that kind of abuse.  I have reduced entrances with the SBB in place, but the robber screens still get used.

In this image there was a block in both the top and bottom (or because of orientation, right and left sides.).


I'm sure skunks would get antsy about fooling around in an area that gave you mysterious zapping.  If it works on Bears, Horses, and Cattle, it should work on Skunks.  The problem I have with the idea is having to mow under a 6 inch fence.  Another thing to use would be a motion detector type sprinkler.  The bees might have to learn to swim though...

Original Motion-Activated Sprinkler vs. Pigeons
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2011, 01:13:25 PM »

I just went to top entrances only and have had no issues with skunks mice, tall grass or snow since...
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BlueBee
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« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2011, 08:47:31 PM »

I agree with Michael that top entrances solve a lot of problems, including skunk problems.  I DO use top entrances on about half my hives.  However when I’m using foam insulation over a wood hive, it has been easier to implement the foam insulation system using bottom entrances.  Think stack up tolerances!

For my nucs, I’ve now elevated them up 21” and hope that will solve those skunk issues. 

Dang skunks are a nuisance evil
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tefer2
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« Reply #23 on: August 18, 2011, 11:00:37 PM »

I have a yard where skunks were a problem and moving the hives up 16 inches off the ground solved it.
 Also learned about the small step ladder to remove those suppers too. I can't imagine starting off with 21 in.
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RayMarler
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« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2011, 06:14:08 AM »

Goto Lowes or Home Depot or your favorite lumber yard and get you some truss plates.

http://www.tooldistrict.com/product-p/8230302.htm

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kingbee
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« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2011, 09:06:25 PM »

... The Cardboard on the ground is to block the weeds.  

I figured that, but why is the upper box (the tan one) upside down?  You feeding?

One bit of advise from someone who has been there and done that, a skunk usually stands erect on its front legs with its legs in the air when it is ready to spray!!!
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rober
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« Reply #26 on: August 21, 2011, 12:36:57 PM »

if anyone is going to trap a skunk- instead of handling the trap with a long pole here's what an old trapper taught me: take a LARGE old beach size towel or similar sized tarp & approach the trap holding the towel in front of you as a a shield. talk in low tones so as to not startle the skunk. slowly lower the towel over the trap. carry the trap to the drowning tank ( i use a wheel barrow ) put the trap in the tank ( leaving the tarp on )& fill with water. do NOT plunge the skunk into a full tank!! it WILL spray.
when you fill slowly the skunk is preoccupied with the rising water. it may leak a little stink but won't spray. using this method the skunks do not spray 99.9% of the time. if you have the stomach for it- make a shallow incision on both sides of the skunks anus & locate the 2 stink glands. remove the stink essence with a hypodermic needle & store in a glass jar. trappers will pay a premium price for bottled stink. also if you check around for the guys ( & gals ) who reenact the mountain man rendevous they will buy the pelts. i get $25.00-$40.00 per pelt. $20.00 per oz. for stink.
it is against the law to relocate animals in many states, especially racoons & skunks who are the main carriers of rabies & distemper.
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CapnChkn
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« Reply #27 on: August 21, 2011, 11:27:21 PM »

Quote
Quote from: CapnChkn on August 16, 2011, 01:46:29 PM
Quote
... The Cardboard on the ground is to block the weeds. 
I figured that, but why is the upper box (the tan one) upside down?  You feeding?
All my hives are like that.  That box is so rotten it wouldn't make a good hive body, I put it on upside down because the other part is uneven with the rot.  Under that is the inner cover, so the hive is actually one deep and one shallow.  It gives the bees some buffer space, like an attic, to help regulate temperature.  I also feed using screened holes, put ant bait and SHB traps in there, and will be packing some kind of insulation in it for the winter.
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