Nearly 200 beehives stolen from California farmer

ByAna Torrea KFSN logo
Friday, March 29, 2024
Thieves steal nearly 200 beehives from farmer in Fresno County
Investigators are searching for the thieves who took off with hundreds of beehives.

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. -- Investigators are searching for the thieves who took off with hundreds of beehives.

For farmers and growers, the bees are crucial in helping crops, like almond trees, grow.

Beekeepers start putting out their hives around January for the pollination.

The Fresno County, California Sheriff's Office said it can be hard to keep an eye on the colonies, especially in a large field in a rural area.

Having the bees stolen from beekeepers not only hurts their operations, but it's also costly to replace.

"That's a lot of money lost, and it's a lot of money lost in the future," said Peter Kotseruba, a San Joaquin Valley farmer and beekeeper.

Last week, beehives were stolen from a ranch just south of Selma, California.

It happened after the almond pollination.

Kotseruba shared pictures with ABC Fresno affiliate KFSN of the stolen hives.

He said the colonies in the pictures are the ones that were stolen

Ed Harmon, Kotseruba's business partner, said nearly 200 hives were taken.

"It's terrible because the beekeepers are out 200 bucks a hive," Harmon said. "He's got a lot of expenses in those hives, to get them here and get them through the pollination."

The bees play a big role in the agricultural industry.

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"Without bees, we're not going to have any crops, any fruits or vegetables," Kotserua said. "We need bees."

"The bees transfer from one tree to the other," Harmon said. "Every one of those nuts is because a bee visited the flower."

The bees came from out of state. They're not cheap or easy to replace.

"You get one check from pollination, which you're going to spend it back into the bees to get for the next year, and they are expensive," Kotseruba said. "You are looking at over $200 just for the colony."

Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said it's between January and March when the agency sees a lot of beehive thefts. That's because the farmers are ramping up for the pollination season.

"Looking back at some of our stats this year, I see in the last four months we've had about 600 hives reported stolen," Botti said. "That's a value of about $150,000 from various locations."

Botti said, once the bees are stolen, it can be hard to track down the hives.

"A lot of times they are taken during the night," said Botti. "By the time they move, they could be dropped off somewhere else."

Kotseruba and Harmon told KFSN they are looking to tighten up security around the ranch, such as placing sensors or cameras around the area.

But it's also another additional cost they're considering to keep their hives protected.

Both Harmon and Kotseruba said they hope this brings awareness to these types thefts.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Office urges people to sign up for the Owner Applied Number program, which helps law enforcement track down stolen equipment and tools.