- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
A Chowchilla beekeeper lost more than 400 hives to thieves this month, but with networking and investigation, was able to find the hide-out and get his bees back.
"They (farmers) are paying about $180 a hive, so those hives are worth a lot of money and because of that, we’ve seen a real increase in the theft of colonies," Mueller said.
In all, the stolen bee colonies were worth about $120,000, according to an article in AgAlert.
"The good news is after some tips from other local beekeepers and some searching, we found the missing bees and called the local sheriff's department," beekeeper Brian Long was quoted in the AgAlert article. "We just got lucky and got enough tips that led us to the bees."
Still, Long estimates he lost between $12,000 and $15,000 after hundreds of bees died in the commotion.
Beekeepers and farmers cannot afford the loss of any bees. Between February and March, California's 750,000 acres of almonds require an estimated 1.2 million bee colonies for pollination. UC Davis entomologist Eric Mussen told AgAlert reporter Christine Souza that strong colonies of bees may be scarce this season.
"Despite these problems, it seems that every year the lure of almond pollination fees entices enough beekeepers to bring their bees to California to meet the needs of the almond growers," Mussen said.