Saskatoon

Honeybee heist stings beekeeping family farm

Saskatchewan's beekeeping community is abuzz after a brazen honeybee heist — described as the province's biggest ever.

Thieves make off with about $60K worth of equipment, bees

Honeybees don't like to fly in the rain and rain was in the forecast, a clue that whover stole the hives knew what they were doing, beekeeper Derek Moyen says. (Andy Duback/The Associated Press)

Saskatchewan's beekeeping community is abuzz after a brazen honeybee heist — described as the province's biggest ever.

Last weekend thieves stole 148 bee hives from a commercial honey operation in Northeastern Saskatchewan.

Derek Moyen, who manages Moyen Honey Farms with his father Gerry in the Zenon Park area, said whoever stole the hives knew what they were doing.

The thieves would have needed a truck, trailer and forklift and they would have to have known where to go which means they had cased the area beforehand.

"It definitely was someone that knew what they were doing," Moyen said. "This wasn't just kids or teenagers that were bored. This was organized."

Almost 150 honey bee hives were taken from Moyen Honey Farms. (Facebook)

And they knew when the bees would be in the hives.

"Friday's forecast was for rain and bees don't fly in the rain," Moyen said. "And, they don't fly at night. So the opportune time to move bees would be during the day on a rainy day or at night.

"We were there on the Friday and left after 4 and the bees were still there, so it probably happened that night."

I don't know if it has ever happened on a scale that big.- Simon Lalonde, Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Assoc.

Moyen said in total the hives and bees are worth about $60,000.

Plus, it takes a year to build a productive hive.

So the loss of the upcoming crop from those stolen hives will cost them another $60,000.

At this time of year each hive, or colony, consists of anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 honeybees.

Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Association president Simon Lalonde believes this is the biggest theft of bee hives that has ever happened in Saskatchewan.

"I don't know if it has ever happened on a scale that big," Lalonde said.

He talked with a number of long-time beekeepers and none have heard of any heist this big happening in Saskatchewan.

He said the thieves could have pulled off the theft quickly.

Derek Moyen estimates the honey farm lost about $60,000 worth of equipment. (Facebook)

"With the right equipment, a forklift, a truck and trailer they could have been gone in probably an hour."

Moyen said at this time of year all beekeepers checking how many bees they have lost over the winter.

They are looking at hives that are weak or that need attention.

And he said every beekeeper puts away some bees to cover losses from the winter.

"These were hives that I had built to cover my winter losses," he said of the stolen hives. "Now I am short 148 hives to cover my winter losses.

There are about 100 commercial beekeepers in Saskatchewan. (Facebook)

"There is a lot of pride that goes into building bees. I have an attachment to my bees. Now that they are gone and in someone else's hands it doesn't make me very happy."

Lalonde said there are only about 100 commercial beekeepers in Saskatchewan.

He is advising them to be vigilant and if they see other vehicles and equipment that shouldn't be there make a note of it.

RCMP have been notified and are looking into the disappearance of the hives.

As for Moyen Honey Farms, they are seeing if insurance will cover their losses.

And they are looking to find a way to replace the stolen hives, though that won't be easy.

"You can't just go down to the local Wal-Mart and pick up 150 hives," he said. "I have to talk real nice to some beekeepers to get some hives to replace them."

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the nearest police service or the Carrot River RCMP at 306-768-1200. People can also call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

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