Bee Theft in Eastern Ontario. Declining Bee Population Reaches a New Low. Over Half a Million Bees Stolen in the Night.
July 8, 2016
Yesterday local bee breeder, Debbie Anne Hutchings of Debbee's Bees in Portland, Ontario , received a devastating blow when her husband Clarence went out to their apiary to pick up bees she had boxed and ready to sell. “Where there should have been Seventeen nuc boxes of bees I found only one.” When Debbie went to the yard to look, she discovered thieves had made off with more than just the nuc boxes. Ten full bee hives had been stolen from the back of the yard. Police were called in and after looking at the tracks in the field surmised the thieves had driven a large truck into the nearby field, unloaded a smaller vehicle that was then driven right up to the hives. “These people are experienced beekeepers, nobody moves a 150 pound box full of angry bees unless they know what they’re doing.” said Debbie. Debbie has been selling bees for years and the last few have been difficult. Three years ago someone poisoned 20 of her hives and her dog. “Last year it rained all of June so my bees were very slow to build up enough to sell. This year the drought is affecting the queens, many have cut back on laying. I have been trying my best to fill all my orders for bees but it has not been easy, and now this, 26 colonies, gone!” Other bee breeders are probably facing similar challenges and combined with bee deaths from pesticides and climate change people are getting desperate. Current drought conditions may be causing decreased honey production as well. Bee thefts have been a huge issue in the US but are relatively rare in Canada, until now. Black market bees may be more of a problem here than we think. Debbie is still reeling from this blow but wants to warn other beekeepers to be vigilant. “Bees have become so valuable that people are taking extreme measures to get them. If we do not protect our bees we may be facing a very different world in the near future.” If anyone heard or saw anything unusual near Debbie’s home, 434 McCann Road. Portland, Ontario, between 8 pm July 6th and 4 AM July 7th, please let her know and the police will be notified. written by Beth Girdler #beetheft #stolenbees