Between January and March, beekeepers send millions of hives to California to pollinate almond trees. A sign in this almond orchard warns it is patrolled — a measure to combat rising beehive thefts. Barbara Rich/Getty Images
Between January and March, send millions of hives to California to almond trees. A sign in this almond orchard warns it is patrolled — a measure to combat rising beehive thefts.
Barbara Rich/Getty Images

 

Sign of the times!

Whilst this article is US-centric, the UK ad Europe are also suffering from similar activity.
What is worrying, is that it is clear that some thieves have expertise with , suggesting they are current or former beekeepers.

The loss of a beehive is more than the loss of a physical item (Which in itself is bad enough).
It costs hundreds of pounds to provide a beehive and all the associated equipment, investment in a beehive is not just a number though.
The investment is also time, spanning several years, as such, when a beehive is stolen, it is not just a monetary loss it is very personal.

 

Between December and March, beekeepers send millions of hives to California to pollinate almond trees. Not all of the hives make it back home.

“The number of beehive thefts is increasing,” explains Jay Freeman, a detective with the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

In California, 1,734 hives were stolen during peak almond season in 2016. In Butte County alone, the number of stolen hives jumped from 200 in 2015 to 400 this year, according to Freeman.

Denise Qualls, a California broker who arranges contracts between beekeepers and almond growers, isn’t surprised that beehive thefts are on the rise.

 

It takes more than 2 million beehives to pollinate California almonds. Currently, beekeepers are paid $200 per hive for pollination services (compared with $130 per hive in 2010).

To complicate matters, bee brokers who arrange contracts between beekeepers and almond growers are discovering that there are not enough beehives to go around, driving up demand, rental costs — and thefts.

Because of the expertise required to steal hives, the general consensus is that beekeepers are behind the heists.

“Beekeepers have the knowledge and equipment to go in and take the hives and the market to profit from them,” Qualls says.

Thieves targeting hives to rent during pollination season are not making off with one or two hives. In Butte County, several large-scale hive thefts occurred this year, with reports ranging from 64 to 200 hives swiped at a time.

“Almond orchards are in rural areas with acres of trees, few homesteads and almost no surveillance,” says Qualls, president and CEO of Pollination Connection. “It’s hard to monitor the hives.”

 

 

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