Honey bees are being rustled.
Katie Hayward, owner of Felin Honeybees, lifts out a honeycomb on her honeybee farm. Thieves have made off with some 45,000 honeybees from the farm in recent months. Courtesy of Felin Honeybees
Thieves are hijacking hives and renting the bees and their queens out to farmers to pollinate their crops. With the global collapse of the bee population, the crime is becoming even more lucrative.
It’s an issue in the U.S., in California’s Central Valley, but most recently, another bee theft caught our attention. On the tiny island of Angelsey, off the coast of North Wales, Felin Honeybees, a farm and education center, has been hit twice in the last month.
The bee burglars used a small box, called a nucleus, which is used for starting new hives, Felin owner Katie Hayward tells NPR’s Linda Wertheimer.
“They’ve done what’s called a ‘bee shake,’ which is where you hold the frames over the box and you shake the bees in,” she explains. “So they can be stored in the boot of any car, I’m afraid.”
They were able to make off with some 45,000 bees, including four queens, she says.
The bee bandits took bees that the center had bred for calmness, to be used for teaching. Hayward says the pilferers must have had some expertise.
“They knew exactly what they were taking,” Hayward says. “There’s been a huge surge in beekeeping as a hobby, and the demand for new nucleuses has risen over 75 percent in the last five years.”