Stolen bee­hives re­cov­ered

Lethbridge Herald - - BUSINESS | AGRICULTURE -

The bee in­dus­try is buzzing over the ar­rest of a man ac­cused of steal­ing thou­sands of hives worth nearly $1 mil­lion from Cal­i­for­nia’s al­mond or­chards in one of the big­gest such thefts on record.

The case has thrown a spot­light on a business many city slick­ers prob­a­bly never knew ex­isted: Bee­keep­ers in the U.S. move their colonies around the coun­try by truck and rent them out to farm­ers to pol­li­nate their flow­er­ing crops.

In Cal­i­for­nia, which re­lies on bees brought in from such places as Mis­souri, Mon­tana and North Dakota to pro­duce more al­monds than any other place in the world, hives be­gan to van­ish overnight across sev­eral coun­ties three years ago.

The break in the case came in late April, when a tip led au­thor­i­ties to a ramshackle “chop shop” of stolen bee­hives on a cor­ner lot out­side Fresno. They ar­rested 51year-old Pavel Tveretinov, a bee­keeper-turned-crim­i­nal from sub­ur­ban Sacramento, on sus­pi­cion of pos­sess­ing stolen prop­erty, in­ves­ti­ga­tors said.

“Bees are big money,” Sgt. Ar­ley Ter­rence of the Fresno County Sher­iff’s Of­fice agri­cul­ture crimes unit said Tues­day. “There’s a lot of mo­tive to steal.”

The un­ex­plained mass die-offs of bees in re­cent years and boom­ing de­mand for al­monds have helped drive up the value of hives.

Al­mond grow­ers rent hives for a few weeks when their trees blos­som, al­low­ing the bees to pol­li­nate the flow­ers as they fly from tree to tree. The blos­soms then turn into nuts.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say Tveretinov, the prime sus­pect in the thefts, went to work at night, re­mov­ing the hives when the bees are dor­mant.

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