Rise in Beehive Thefts Could Hurt California’s Almond Harvest

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SOLANO COUNTY -- The Solano County Sheriff’s Office says beehive thefts have spiked in recent weeks as the almond harvest gets underway.

"Those people they’re being filed on, they're going to be prosecuted. We’ve got an additional theft in our county in this area that is currently under investigation," said Solano County Resident Deputy Sheriff Jim Currie.

Fred Stewart, the owner of Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, says a beehive can cost upward of $250.

He says the problem is California needs more bees than there are beekeepers in the state. Around two-thirds of pollination hives come from other states and countries.

But the insects do not always adapt to California's climate.

"I hear stories all the time. Beekeepers from, well, like Oklahoma brought his bees out in the fall, started looking at them out here before winter set in and he lost them all," Stewart said.

Stewart says that beekeeper lost them to cold weather.

However, those beekeepers may be reluctant to tell almond growers that they cannot supply them for fear of not getting paid.

"Unfortunately, there are people that do resort to theft to make up for those losses," Stewart told FOX40.

Meanwhile, deputies want members of the public to be on the lookout, saying suspect anyone who is moving hives during daylight hours.

"All the bees right now are out pollinating, so it’s not normal to see people moving bees during the day," Currie said. "They're usually moved at nighttime if they have to be moved."

Most hives do have identifying markers.

Anyone caught stealing beehives will be charged with grand theft of livestock.

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