Someone’s Stealing the Bees … and That’s Bad for California’s Almond Farmers

Talk about a buzzkill.

Bees are big business, especially in California. The busy pollinators are essential for the states yearly almond harvest, and as a hot commodity, theft has become more rampant. And that’s exactly what Detective Isaac Torres, a member of the Agriculture Crimes Task Force learned when he came upon a “crime scene” of mangled hives and millions of bees, both dead and alive, in a field just outside Fresno. A Sacramento man at the scene named Pavel Tveretinov denied stealing the hives and bees, but suspicion still led to his arrest.

According to Alta, “Word of the discovery, and the arrest, spread quickly through America’s small commercial beekeeping community. In the days that followed, Torres’ department received dozens of calls from across the nation. Beekeepers wanted to know whether their hives were among those recovered—at this chop shop, or at three others that authorities found later, connected to Tveretinov and alleged accomplice Vitaliy Yeroshenko.

“’Some of them were like, ‘Well, I had beehives that were stolen three years ago,’’ Torres said. ‘Some five years ago.’”

“By the time Torres and his team got a handle on the totals, they were dealing with 2,500 hives, worth nearly $1 million, some stolen from orchards hundreds of miles apart. This was much more than an impulsive theft: It was the largest bee heist any of them had ever heard of. Perhaps the largest in U.S. history.”

Read more here.

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