As spring quickly approaches, farmers are counting on bees to begin the pollination process and allow their crops to blossom.

Many growers setup apiaries on their property by paying a lot of money to rent boxes of bees.  However, over the years it’s created an environment where thieves target and steal those precious hives.

Last week, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office Agricultural Crimes Task-Force responded to two reports of hives being stolen. In Coalinga, thieves stole 80 hives from a ranch, which totaled $32,000.  In the Firebaugh area, crooks took 48 hives worth $20,000.

Detectives have learned through previous investigations that suspects generally have knowledge of the industry and may have even worked as beekeepers in the past.  Since there is obviously no way detectives can identify the actual bees, the thieves can use the stolen bees to supplement their inventory.

Most thefts occur at nighttime, when bees are dormant.  Tire tracks from forklifts have been found at several scenes, so the suspects may appear to be a legitimate work crew, but in fact are stealing the bees.  Hives are typically moved on flat bed trailers, so it should be considered suspicious if someone is placing them in the bed of a truck.  Anyone who notices these types of activities should report them immediately.

A simple way beekeepers can protect themselves is to mark their hives with a unique name and telephone number.  It’s also beneficial to place something identifiable, such as a business card, inside the hives.  It’s also a good idea for beekeepers to register their bees with the Fresno County Ag Department or even place GPS tracking devices in their hives.

All of these measure can help tell law enforcement who to contact if stolen hives are located.

According to a county ordinance, law enforcement may stop any person moving bees in order to determine the legitimacy of their work. Therefore, they must carry proof of ownership and supporting documentation.

Anyone with information on these thefts is asked to please contact the Sheriff’s Office at (559) 600-3111 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  You may also call Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP (7867).


Contact Information

Tony Botti
Public Information Officer
(559) 600-8137
(559) 977-0379
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.