SUTTER COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) -- Thieves stole 92 beehives from a beekeeper located just south of Yuba City in Sutter County.
Beekeeper Mike Potts said he believes the crooks used a flatbed truck or trailer to take about a quarter of his inventory worth about $18,000.
Potts said spring is not far away and beekeepers make much of their earnings renting hives to growers who must get their blossoms pollinated if they are to produce this year’s crop of almonds and prunes.
Potts also moves his hives to Oregon in the spring to work cherry and apple orchards.
“It will be a $44,000 hit just for income this year,” Potts said.
The beekeeper said he was trying to collect queen bees from his remaining hives so he could create new hives but that will take most of the spring to accomplish and won't be ready in time for pollinating this season.
Potts speculates his hives were taken by keepers who are not successful at keeping their hives disease-free.
His hives are new and only a few are etched with his "BP" brand. He said he fears the frames inside the stolen hives will be installed in the culprits' hives and his hives, which are wooden boxes, will be burned.
At Potts' other locations, cameras and GPS devices are used. Potts said they are now in use at the theft location.
The California Beekeepers Association has sent out an alert for people to look out for the missing hives and report suspicious activity that might occur in the early morning hours.
Legitimate beekeepers will move hives around with lights and noisy forklifts while crooks try to operate in stealth mode, according to Potts.
“If you see anything out there suspicious, call the sheriff,” Potts told FOX40.
Several bee inspectors have reached out to Potts and said they will be on the lookout for hives or frames that are marked with his brand.