Abbotsford beekeeper loses $100,000 worth of bees, honey

An Abbotsford bee-keeper says he is out nearly $100,000 after someone stole 48 hives packed full of honey this month.
The hives contained as many as 500,000 honey bees and honey waiting to be removed and processed next month.
Abbotsford Police Const. Ian MacDonald said the bee-keeper noticed the theft on July 26 after he went to an apiary yard he keeps at a farm in the 27600 block of 0 Ave. He discovered that all of the hives, which had a total of 96 honey boxes with an estimated 8,000 pounds of honey were gone.
“This is certainly one of the stranger thefts we’ve had,” MacDonald said. “In the three-and-a-half years I’ve been doing this we’ve had goats and pigeons stolen, but never honey bees.”
MacDonald said it was clear the thieves had to have equipment to lift and load the hives, and were likely people who understood beekeeping.
The theft comes right in the middle of honey production. Beekeepers in the Fraser Valley begin processing their honey in late August. This year has been a bit wet for beekeepers, and production levels are lower than in past years.
But MacDonald said the bee-keeper had not been to see his bees in about three weeks, placing the theft at sometime between July 7 and 26. He said the hives were located away from the roadway and weren’t physically obvious to passersby.
In May, a Grande Prairie, Alberta bee-keeper lost more than 150 of his 3,000 hives after a thief — who likely is a bee-keeper, stripped the hives of frames, queens, bees and honey. The thief left the hive boxes so that passersby would think the hives were still in production. That beekeeper’s losses amounted to $60,000.
Paul van Westendorp, B.C.’s provincial apiculturist, said there have been other bee thefts in B.C. this year, but this most recent one involves taking parts of hives rather than the entire operation.
“Most [were] in the southern regions but these were mostly involving a small number of whole colonies. This Abbotsford report mentions the removal of frames with bees rather than the entire colony. This is interesting because it obviously involves someone with beekeeping experience,” van Westendorp. “I recall identical types of thefts that were reported in the south Okanagan a few years ago which then suddenly stopped. The similarity is striking and one can’t help but think that perhaps the same bee-keeper is involved.”
John Gibeau, a commercial bee-keeper who owns the Honey Bee Centre in Surrey, said such thefts are rare but invariably involve people who have beekeeping knowledge. “Once they steal the bees, they’re a bee-keeper,” he said.
He said he didn’t understand the valuation of the Abbotsford theft, as 48 hives would represent about $18,000. A single frame of bees — and there are 10 in each box — is worth $40.
In British Columbia the cost of a hive of bees alone is about $150, and the equipment to house those bees another $200-300.
MacDonald said anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the Abbotsford Police Department at 604-859-5225 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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