Hive heist hits Eastern Townships honey retailer

Someone broke into a locked enclosure and made off with 180 beehives at Entreprises Francis Labonté in Saint-Valère, Que., and the owner says he suspects the culprit is another beekeeper.

Owner of Miel Labonté suspects $200K worth of hives taken by another beekeeper

The hive owners said they were kept in a secure location, but the lock was broken and the hives were removed. (Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

The father of the owner of 180 beehives swiped from a locked enclosure in Saint-Valère, Que. says he suspects the culprit is another beekeeper.

The theft occurred in a field on Highway 955, near Victoriaville, Que., sometime between April 24 and 26. Saint-Valère is about 150 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

The hives were owned by Francis Labonté, owner of Entreprises Francis Labonté, who sold the honey to his father Jean-MarcLabonté's company, Miel Labonté.

Jean-Marc Labonté told Radio-Canada that the stolen hives were almost all rented by blueberry farmers to help pollinate their crops this summer. He estimates the loss at $200,000.

The hives were in a secured area, but someone broke the lock to take them.

Francis Labonté stands in front of his hives. One hundred and eighty hives were stolen from his family business between April 24 and 26. (Marie-Hélène Rousseau/Radio-Canada)

Labonté believes anyone interested in that many hives must be a beekeeper. He suspects the hives were stolen because, with higher-than-average rates of bee deaths, times have been hard for beekeepers.

Quebec's provincial police are asking for the public's help to find the hives. Sûreté du Québec Sgt. Geneviève Bruneau said all hives are engraved with the name "Miel Labonté."

She said investigators are looking for a cube truck or vehicle that could contain all of the equipment.