The headline is everywhere this past week: 60,000 Bees Stolen from Grocery Company’s Pollinator Field. The theft is said to have taken place in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, between January 28-30, 2022.
It is tragic as well as illegal that 60,000 bees were stolen from anywhere. It is theft, plain and simple.
One worries about the bees, too. Does the thief know how to care for bees or are they a temporary commodity?
The Giant Company’s community impact manager said in her statement that the bees were an essential part of the local food chain that is suffering a declining bee population. The company is very disappointed that this happened, and they are cooperating with Middlesex Township Police Department. Pennsylvania beekeepers reported a loss of 41% of their bee populations in 2021.
But let’s put this into perspective. One single hive can sometimes hold 50,000 to 60,000 bees. So probably one or two beehives were stolen. This doesn’t make it okay, or less impactful a loss to the owners, but for those unfamiliar with bees, it gives a more real insight into the size of the loss.
This unrelated 1:32-minute video by NBC2 News is about a huge bee heist from just a few months ago:
In comparison to the Giant Company bee heist, this Florida theft of 150 beehives, if calculating a low average of 30,000 bees in each hive, represents a loss of at least 4.5 million bees.
Beekeepers may have to start safeguarding their precious bees in a better way. Until recently, we lived in a world where beehives were safe for the most part, because nobody normally thought of stealing them, but this is no longer the case. Theft of beehives is up all over the place.
There has been more talk recently about how beekeeping can be lucrative. There are also many people these days that cannot or do not wish to work in the workforce. Beekeeping can be a low key, cash-based business concept for such a person, who can harvest honey and sell it at farmer’s markets or to small stores… or rent out hives of bees for good money to mass pollination schemes around the country like the annual California almond orchard pollination. Instead of starting from scratch, investing money in the hives, the bees, and gaining the knowledge to be a beekeeper, it is faster and easier for them to swipe someone else’s property, investment, and hard work. Bees and their hives are largely untraceable, although that too is starting to change.
Bees pollinate plants that represent one-third of the US food supply. The national loss of bees is causing serious concerns with environmentalists and within the agricultural industry.
Meanwhile, many beekeepers mourn the loss of their bees, having formed a true bond with their beloved insects. Yes, it's a business. Yes, it's a financial loss when they are stolen. Yes, it is hard work. But a true and deep connection can exist between humans and their insects.