It might take a sting operation to solve this crime.

Someone has allegedly stolen a beehive from the Thunder Bay, Ont., Centennial Botanical Conservatory.

Local beekeeper Rudy Kutchta was tending to a swarm earlier this month, when he noticed one of his hives was missing. 

"For a minute I thought I was going a little wingy," Kutchta said.

He had to look at photographs from a previous CBC feature on his operation to reassure himself that, indeed, there used to be a hive in the now-empty space, he said. 

The bees, equipment and honey are worth about $2,000, but what really bugs Kutchta, he said, is that someone would steal a hive to begin with.

"It's a disheartening thing because, as I go back there, I say, 'Well, next week is something else going to be missing?'" he said. "It takes you back a little."

Kuchta said he's found himself wondering if he should bring his bees home from the conservatory.

Rudy Kutchta

Rudy Kutchta says he hopes thefts of hives don't catch on in Thunder Bay the way they have in southern Ontario. (Heather Kitching / CBC)

"It's sad because the conservatory — just as much as I appreciate having bees there, I think they do as well."

Currently, he said he's considering installing security cameras.

Hive heists are not uncommon in southern Ontario, but they're rare in the north, local beekeepers told CBC News.

Some recalled just one other incident, which took place a couple of years ago. 

"First, I thought maybe it's just a prank or something," Kuchta said of the previous incident. "But if it keeps occurring ... it's a little bit concerning.  

"We have other crimes in the city.  We don't need bee crimes."