Smoke helped settle Brian Long's bees after they were swiped from a lot east of Chowchilla and then recovered almost a week later. The Madera county beekeeper admitted, "I had written them off truthfully."
Someone made off with 388 of Brian's hives during two separate thefts. Long said, "It's a pretty big draw to somebody who has the guts and is crooked enough to do that."
Long was devastated. He said the hives were worth about 120-thousand dollars. "Just started putting the word out that we had a significant bee theft which is detrimental to me. 25-percent of my operation is huge."
Long followed up on a tip from a fellow beekeeper. He recovered all of his hives from a property a few miles away.
No arrests have been made but Erica Stuart of the Madera County Sheriff's Department has noticed a troubling trend. She said, "We've had more bee thefts in the past two weeks than we've had in the past three years."
Stuart said another beekeeper also had hundreds of hives stolen. They are still missing.
Long is now ready to invest in new security measures. "There is a GPS system that can be installed in the actual bee hives themselves with a GPS tracking device and if the bees are moved it will signal the beekeeper and he can possibly track the bees that way."
Authorities urge the public to report any suspicious activity because it's too early in the year to move beehives into orchards or fields.