Thieves Go After Orchard Hives

March 8, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Just when bumble bees are needed to cross-pollinate crops in the central valley, thieves are stealing orchard hives.Almond farmers in San Joaquin County have been watching their beehives disappear by the thousands for weeks now.

Since almond trees can only be pollinated for 3 weeks during the year, the timing couldn't be more critical.

David Phippen, almond grower, says "If the bees aren't there at that opportune moment, you're going to have substantial crop reduction."

The beehive theft is so widespread the San Joaquin county sheriff's department has a 5-man AG crime unit.

They believe the shortage of honey bees and the higher prices to rent them is fueling the thefts. Some farmers are now hiding their hives to keep them from being stolen.