Woodland, California (AP) – A few weeks ago, beekeepers from the United States drove billions of honey bees to California to pollute the state’s most important crop of almond farmers.
But when almonds began to sprout and cover the valleys with white and pink flowers, beekeeping was widespread, so beekeepers now resorted to GPS tracking devices, surveillance cameras, and other theft technologies to protect their colonies.
Hive theft is reported elsewhere in the country, with three hives carrying 60,000 bees recently taken from a grocery garden in central Pennsylvania.. Bees are the most sought after beetle in California during the world’s largest pollen season.
Officials say 1,036 beehives worth hundreds of thousands of dollars have been stolen from gardens in the past few weeks. The Big Hest includes 384 beehives taken from the field in Mendosino County, prompting the State Beekeeping Association to award a $ 10,000 reward for information leading to recovery.
Claire Towers spread the word about the award on Facebook, saying: A day later, anonymous aid workers recovered most of the boxes, forcliffe, stolen from the Towers family business 55 miles (88 km) from rural property in Yolo County. One suspect has been arrested.
Investigators have found frames for the honeycomb, another beehive owned by Helio Medina, which lost 282 hives a year ago.
According to Medina, the theft destroyed the app, so he put GPS trackers in his boxes this year. He also installed cable locks around them and installed cameras nearby. As the almond blossoms approached and the hives became more valuable, he drove around the gardens in the dark.
“We have done everything we can to protect ourselves. No one can help us,” Medina said.
Steals often occur at night, when no one is in the garden and bees return to the hive. The robber is usually a beekeeper or a beekeeper.
Bodge County Sheriff’s Investigator Rhody Jay Freeman, who has been monitoring beehive theft since 2013, said: “They often steal money and let the bees die.
Rising bee supply and flowering costs are less than $ 50 a year ago, renting a hive for less than $ 230 this year – prompting beekeepers to cheat.
The demand for bees has grown exponentially over the past 20 years, making California the world’s largest almond producer. As a result, the land used for the production of almonds has more than doubled and reached an estimated 1.3 million hectares (526,000 hectares).
The beekeepers have been expecting that growth by increasing the number of beehives in the country. This year, a study of beekeepers estimated that 90% of honey bee colonies in the US could contaminate almond gardens.
“This means that beekeepers are coming to New York and Florida, and that to increase the price of pollen,” says Britney Goodrich, an agronomist at Davis University in California.
But bees are known to be unstable due to many problems, including disease, homelessness and pesticides.
Last summer’s drought in the Western Hemisphere weakened the colonies. Lack of rain destroys wildflowers that produce nectar that turns bees into honey. Beekeepers had to manually supplement their diet with sugar solutions and pollen – and they had to pay extra.
For beekeepers, the loss of a beehive means the loss of income from honey production and future flower production, not to mention the cost of managing the hive throughout the year. They even say that they are less likely to break.
“For every $ 210 paid to hire a bee, we save enough to feed the bees throughout the year due to the drought. ‘
Denise Cools, a pollen broker who connects beekeepers with farmers, said:
“The manufacturer is also responsible when they receive them,” she said.
To help its customers track their investments, Kules integrates its business with Tech Start Bee Hero to equip hive boxes with a GPS-enabled sensor.
Freeman, a beekeeper who investigated the first beehive theft, said he advised beekeepers to use security cameras and put their names and phone numbers on the boxes.
Some beekeepers claim that their boxes are used by SmartWater CSI to detect stolen property from police. The clear liquid is only visible under UV light, even in layers of paint, so when thieves try to hide boxes, the police can verify the exact owner.
To increase the severity of the crime, Freeman worked with the prosecutor in 2016 to steal cattle from 64 beehives. Under California law, theft of property worth $ 950 or less is considered a felony. However, the theft of any agricultural product worth at least $ 250 is considered a crime.
“Stealing one or 10 or 100 hives carries the same charge,” he said.
The man pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 90 days in prison and three years in prison.
The California State Beekeepers’ Association encourages beekeepers to regularly talk to their beekeepers about where their hives are kept, and encourages growers to hire prominent beekeepers to prove their ownership. The almond industry, for its part, is trying to reduce its dependence on bees by growing “self-fertilized” almond varieties, which require small bees to breed and invest in research and other health promotion purposes.
California Almond Board joins coalition of agricultural, environmental and government groups Creating habitats for wild bees, butterflies and other pollen on privately owned workplaces such as cattle ranches and orchards. The regional government is providing $ 15 million in funding for the effort, calling it an “investment in climate change agriculture.”