Feb 16, 2015 7:03 PM by Brian Johnson
What are being called professional thieves walk away with thousands of dollars-worth in stolen beehives.
They stole two dozen beehives from Jason Bertagna's almond orchards off Crouch Avenue and Stevens Avenue last Monday.
At $200 each to rent from beekeepers for the pollination season, that stung.
"As of right now it's of complete loss," Bertagna said. "A loss for the beekeeper for property and a loss for us for pollinization."
A 5th generation farmer, Bertagna doesn't know if his insurance will cover the cost, and he said the Butte County Sheriff's Office has no leads yet.
But he does know it had to be another beekeeper or almond grower, albeit a more desperate one.
"It has to be somebody that's involved in the industry or needs bees for some nature," nearby almond grower Glenn Mendonca said.
Mendonca's beehives were also targeted by thieves last week.
But unlike those who stole from Bertagna, loading up whole hives, those who stole from Mendonca only took parts inside the hives, including some bees.
"It's going on and it's just catching them," Mendonca said. "If you see lights in your orchard at night, or you just see something unusual, or you see somebody working bees-just pay attention. It could not be the beekeeper that's actually working his bees. It could be somebody stealing the bees right in broad daylight too."
The good news for Bertagna is he's already replaced the 24 beehives and is back to properly pollinating his crop.
But only time will tell how much that crop has been hurt by the week gap in between.
"Thievery never pays," he said. "Hopefully good wins."
Bertagna said his beekeepers are now looking into getting insurance for their beehives.
If you have any information on this incident or beehive theft in the Chico area, call the Butte County Sheriff's Office at 530-538-7322.
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