In Madera County, about 130 miles east of San Francisco, officials saw a rash of bee burglaries this year, as a shortage of able-bodied pollinators drove up the price. “They’d just go in there and they smoke the bees, sedate them and take them,” Sheriff John Anderson said. “And they wear protective gear just like the pros.”
Brian Long, a beekeeper based in Colorado, was one of those hit, losing more than 400 hives — valued at about $100,000 — in California in January. And while Mr. Long later recovered the hives, and most of the bees therein, he said the thieves were getting bolder. “This is way more than we’ve ever had to deal with,” he said.
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