A man who stole dozens of beehives across the West has been arrested in Washington state, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office (WA) said. The bees could be worth more than $200,000.
“The case has the potential of over 30 victims spread across California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington,” the Sheriff’s Office told the Bellingham Herald.
Perry David Bayes, 56, was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property in the first degree, which is a class B felony, according to officials. It was not immediately known if he has a lawyer.
The investigation began after the Sheriff’s Office received a report from a beekeeper whose bees were taken.
“The victim went to retrieve his hives and they were gone,” Lincoln County officials said. “The investigation soon led to some tips and the ‘sting’ was set up, resulting in the arrest and a ‘very sweet’ ending.”
A “beekeeper chop shop” is common in California and other parts of the country, the Sheriff’s Office said.
Beehives can mysteriously disappear overnight. In 2017, a man was accused of stealing nearly $1 million worth of hives from almond orchards, The Associated Press reported.
“Bees are big money,” Sgt. Arley Terrence of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office agriculture crimes unit told the AP in 2017. “There’s a lot of motive to steal.”