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Quebec thieves steal more than 180 beehives

Montreal, Canada | AFP |

Thieves in Quebec have staged an unusual heist of something that’s becoming increasingly rare in North America these days: bees.

Beekeeper Jean-Marc Labonte lost more than 180 beehives worth $160,000 earlier this week in what he says is a first for his family business.

“It’s very, very uncommon in Quebec,” he told AFP.

Labonte said he suspects the theft to be the work of another beekeeper who “lost many bees” last winter and is trying to get more free.

The heist, which is being investigated by police, allegedly took place Monday in a locked apiary in the city of Victoriaville, 100 miles (160 kilometers) northeast of Montreal.

“It sickens me because bees are very rare” and increasingly expensive as their numbers decline across North America, he said.

The number of bees has dramatically dropped in recent years as a result of disease and pesticides.

Labonte said each hive is worth about $500, not including bees’ value as agricultural pollinators and the income generated from sale of their honey.

His company, which owns 4,000 hives, rents them throughout Quebec to pollinate blueberry bushes and cranberry fields.

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