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SACRAMENTO — Bee thieves have struck in the Sacramento area taking 80 hives that were stored for the off season near the Sacramento International Airport off of Elkhorn Road.

Victor Cojan says he noticed his hives were missing on Monday. He says a local grower saw them there on Saturday and he surmised that thieves took them during the night on Sunday.

Fellow beekeeper Eddie Maslyanchuk lost 20 hives a few hundred feet away along with beekeeping equipment like pallets, lids and feeders.

“It’s not for a regular person to steal. It’s for somebody who knew what beekeeping was and how to work with them,” said Maslyanchuk.

There were tell-tale tractor tire marks nearby. The beekeepers say it’s likely the thieves had a forklift and a truck or trailer to make off with the hives.

All told, the loss was in the tens of thousands of dollars not to mention lost rental time for farmers who demand bees in the spring when pollination of crops occurs.

New hives can’t be created with new queens during the winter and it takes a year to cultivate a new hive, but only in warmer weather.

“This is the worst time of year to have the hives stolen,” said Cojan.

His hives were green and yellow in color and many were marked with his company name

Maslynchuk’s hives were etched with his company’s name MMY Beekeeping.

Cojan is offering a $4,000 reward for help in locating his stolen hives and can be contacted through his website.