Six beehives have been stolen from a Paradise Valley farm.
Jason Flint, owner of Flint Farms Honey, says he went to check on the bees at around noon on Tuesday when he noticed the fencing around the hives were torn down.
“That’s when I knew something had happened and noticed there were missing hives.”
Flint isn’t sure when exactly it happened, but says it was in between July 10 and July 14. He says the theft is going to cause production to slow down and estimates the loss at around $4,000 to $5,000.
“Some of them would have honey supers on them with honey in the boxes already. There’s a loss of the bee hives and a loss of production for this year and then having to make up for it with production. It’s a setback. Farmers are used to setbacks whether it’s weather or many other things but theft really sucks for sure.”
Flint mentions there aren’t any distinguishing details on their bee hive boxes, but they will look similar to the ones they already have (pictured below).
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to call Kitscoty RCMP at 780-846-2870, Flint at 780-872-9384, his wife Songshan at 306-491-5866.
Tough times for beekeepers
Alberta Beekeepers Commission president Jeremy Olthof says beehive theft isn’t a common occurrence in Alberta. He says there’s been a few in the past couple of years including one last year in Saskatchewan, but nothing on the same scale as the thefts happening in California.
“It’s a different industry down there. They haul bees into California from across the country and a lot of times the beekeepers load it on a semi and don’t even know or don’t keep an eye on them. I really hope it doesn’t become a huge problem.”
Olthof says having bee hives stolen would be one of many setbacks for beekeepers this season. Like many industries, local honey producers are feeling the sting of COVID-19, on top of a poor 2019 season and a cool and rainy 2020. He says most years his farm, Tees Bees Inc. in Lacombe County, would be harvesting honey by now, but the weather is causing delays in production.
“There are a number of beekeepers that are on the brink right now and this year is not going well either. We’re in our main flow right now and we’re just not getting good weather.”
One of the ways beekeepers could rebound from the previous season, would be to import colonies from New Zealand and Australia. However, COVID-19 has made that difficult. The provincial government has announced a $1 million program to help the 168 commercial beekeepers in Alberta offset the costs of importing colonies.