Thieves have quietly buzzed off with $100,000 worth of bees and honey from an Abbotsford beekeeping operation at Ross Road and Zero Avenue.
Nearly 100 hive frames have been removed along with an estimated 8,000 pounds of commercial honey and approximately 500,000 bees.
“Somebody went in there with the intention of not just stealing the bees and the hives, but also stealing them in such a way they could be integrated into an ongoing or existing operation,” said Abbotsford police Const. Ian MacDonald, adding the careful and meticulous work was the first clue it wasn’t simply a case of vandalism.
“We’re at a point in the calendar cycle where we’re in a high yield for honey, so a novice wouldn’t know this would be the best time to make such a theft,” he said.
The heist would have required significant equipment and expertise as dealing with half a million bees can be dangerous.
The theft was discovered on July 26, but the timing of the incident is difficult to pin down since the beekeeper hadn’t visited the site since early July.
The location was just one of several properties the beekeeper rents, which MacDonald said is fairly typical for beekeepers in Abbotsford.
MacDonald said he spoke to an apiarist on Monday, who told him that it had to be a beekeeping professional to have made off without causing destruction or disruption to the operation.
Since the insects can’t be tagged like livestock, the best chance for identification will be the hive frames. Another clue might be that somebody will note that a person who had a relatively small beekeeping operation a week ago now has a pretty sizeable one, said MacDonald.
The hives were located away from the roadway and would not be easily observed by passersby, but police are looking for anybody who may have witnessed some aspect of the incident between July 7 and 26.
MacDonald acknowledged the incident is a rare one, but noted that a couple of years ago there were a series of similarly puzzling large-scale thefts of pigeons.
The Abbotsford Police Department is requesting the public’s assistance with this investigation. Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact the APD at 604-859-5225 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.