A Montana beekeeper has recovered hives that were stolen from him in California, thanks to what the AP is calling an agricultural "sting" operation. Lloyd Cunniff of Choteau reported 488 hives stolen in January, after he had transported them to California for the almond pollination season. A tip led Fresno County authorities to find stolen hives worth $170,000 in a rented bee nursery space, a cow pasture, and hidden in a drainage along a freeway.
Fresno County Detective Anders Solis, a member of the county's agriculture crimes task force, says there were 10 victims in seven California counties in all. Bee theft is "kind of new to us, too. This has been going on for about three years," he says. Cunniff got most of his bees back last Sunday, reports the Great Falls Tribune. He says he is keeping the recovered hives in a separate field in case they are infected with disease or mites. (Yes, stealing thousands of dollars worth of bees is apparently a thing.)