The hives are multi-colored and marked with the letters "MEB." They are valued around $34,000.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County Sheriff's Office is searching for nearly 100 stolen beehives.
Farmers around the Central Valley are moving beehives into their fields this week as their almond trees begin to bloom.
The bees are the key to making sure their trees are pollinated and the crops plentiful.
Ryan Jacobsen, CEO of the Fresno County Farm Bureau, says for beekeepers, renting their hives out to farmers is the largest part of their income, and for farmers, it can be their biggest expense.
Unfortunately, thefts are not uncommon.
"Because of the high value of these hives and relative ruralness and remote areas where they're located, the thefts are something we deal with quite often," explained Jacobsen.
The sheriff's office says nearly 100 beehives were stolen from a field west of Mendota near Interstate 5 and Panoche Road between January 28 and 29.
The hives owned by Circle B Honey Farms out of South Dakota are valued at $34,000.
Jacobsen says the overall financial toll is much greater than that and can take a long time to recover.
"To the individual beekeepers themselves, it can be absolutely devastating. You're looking at hundreds and hundreds of dollars invested in that single hive, and you just don't make that up. You don't just go buy another box, and all of a sudden have a colony," Jacobsen said.
"It's a very extensive process from acquiring the queen all the way through the development of trying to have a healthy hive and trying to keep it up over the course of a couple of years there."
He says it goes further with the loss of honey and missing out on future rental fees.
The hives stolen last week are multi-colored and marked with the letters "MEB" to help identify them.
Jacobson says some beekeepers are also now experimenting with GPS and other tracking devices.
The sheriff's office is asking you to report stolen hives if you see them and keep an eye out for suspicious behavior to help prevent future thefts.
"This is the time of year where you should be seeing forklifts offloading hives into orchards, not necessarily putting them back onto a truck," said Tony Botti with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.
"So, keep your eyes peeled. If you see somebody loading bees onto a truck, call in law enforcement and let us go and check it out and make sure that it's legit."
Unfortunately, because we are so early in the season, both Botti and Jacobsen say thefts just like this one are likely to happen again.
So, they're reminding farmers and beekeepers to take extra safety measures and stay vigilant.