The last couple months have been rough for beekeepers across the state. Hive theft has grown to unprecedented levels, in part because of the rapidly rising prices of almond pollination. Over 500 hives have been stolen from CSBA members alone. Theft has been just as widespread for beekeepers outside our organization with the total number of beehives stolen easily rising to over 1,000.
There is still hope, however. Thanks to an observant beekeeper, one entire cache of stolen beehives was discovered and returned to the rightful owner. This was possible because of clearly visible brand numbers and someone who was not afraid to ask questions.
Hive theft is not a problem that will go away. Beekeepers, bee brokers, and almond growers need to be vigilant and work together to prevent hive theft and catch those responsible. If you haven’t already, consider registering for a brand and branding your boxes and frames. Brands help enormously in identifying and recovering hives. Bee brokers and almond growers should be encouraged to ask about and check for brand numbers on rented hives. A few questions can go a long way in discouraging and even catching thieves.
The CSBA currently offers a reward up to $10,000 for the arrest and conviction of persons stealing CSBA members’ bees or equipment. The CSBA would like to encourage all beekeepers to report incidents of bee theft both to the authorities and the CSBA. The CSBA represents the interests of all California beekeepers and we need to be fully aware of bee theft both inside and outside of our organization.