California Almond Growers Are Feeling the Sting After Bee Thieves Abscond With Hives

February 22, 2019, 11:13 PM UTC

California almond growers—and indeed, many farmers in the state’s Central Valley—have more than climate change weather woes on their mind this season. A not-so-unusual problem plaguing some farmers? Beehive thefts. Nearly 200 hives were stolen in early February from a Central Valley orchard, according to Ag Alert, published by the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Beehive heists are becoming an annual problem for California almond growers, especially as the bee population has declined in recent years and growers increasingly rely on hives trucked in and managed by professional beekeepers. This year’s first major bee theft happened on or around Feb. 10, according to Ag Alert. The value of just one hive can be between $200 and $500, according to one beekeeper interviewed by KMPH in Fresno.

And some beekeepers can even stand to lose everything in a single devastating hive heist, according to a recent Bloomberg report on hive thieves. One apiary manager not only lost $100,000 in pollination fees; at 57 years old with more than 50 hives stolen, his entire livelihood was suddenly, irrevocably gone.

The California Beekeepers Association issued a warning and is offering members a $10,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest of the thieves responsible for the stolen hives. The association’s advice to farmers? Know your beekeeper. And if you see someone moving hives out of an orchard, call the police.