In Spring 2016, one of Quebec’s largest independent apiaries was robbed of 184 hives – over five million bees – valued at $200,000.
The brazen crime sent shockwaves through the beekeeping community and devastated the Labonté family, who have been producing honey in La Belle Province since 1937.
Weaving through the perspective of the Labontés, local media and court officials, the episode explores how one of Quebec’s most storied beekeeping families fell victim to the biggest bee theft in Canadian history.
The Labonté family of Victoriaville, Que., has been producing honey for over 70 years. The company was founded by Rolland Labonté. Jean-Marc, his son, took over the business when he was 17. Jean-Marc’s sons Francis and Mathieu now run the Labonté bee company, along with the help of Francis’ son, Frederick — who is the fourth generation of Labonté beekeepers.
Farm Crime Facts:
- One out of every three bites of food we eat is pollinated by bees.
- To make one pound of honey, bees must travel over 88,000 kilometres and visit two million flowers.
- In Quebec, “hive inspectors” are appointed by the government to make sure that beekeepers are doing what they can to keep their bees healthy.
- The Labonté hive heist in 2016 was the biggest bee theft in Canadian history, with over five million stolen bees.
- Jean-Marc Labonté signs off his emails with, “Have a honey of a day!”