Sutter County authorities investigate beehive theft
Valued at $44,000, a total of 92 beehives were stolen recently near South Washington Boulevard in Sutter County.
The owner, Mike Potts, manages the bees through his business Pottsy’s Pollination and Honey Farm based out of Oregon. He said this is the first time in 15 years of business that he’s had hives stolen from him.
“It’s about a quarter of my business that was taken,” Potts said. “Revenue-wise it was about $44,000 for the year, not including equipment.”
The light-gray painted wooden beehives have the letters “MP” engraved on the side. Potts said he has about 400 hives left.
“When you lose 92 hives, that’s going to affect productivity,” Potts said.
Productivity is the hallmark of pollinator bees, which Potts said he transports to Sutter County around mid-December. The bees pollinate almond orchards until April, when they are taken to Oregon and Washington to pollinate apples and cherries.
“Every food source pretty much needs bees to pollinate,” Potts said.
It’s not like the business of beekeeping wasn’t already challenging.
While each hive contains between 50,000 to 60,000 bees, Potts said there are diseases bees can develop from a mite, which make it difficult to keep up the population.
“We spend most of the year just keeping them alive,” Potts said. “And it’s pretty tough.”
He contracts his bee services to local farmers, and said he was able to have another beekeeper provide hives to cover the ones he lost.
“But if I didn’t have him (the beekeeper) available, then it would have been a loss to the grower,” Potts said.
The Sutter County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the incident.
“We haven’t had a beehive theft in a long time,” said Sutter County Undersheriff Scott Smallwood. “It’s not a common thing.”
According to a previous Appeal-Democrat report, in January 2017 over 700 beehives — valued at nearly $250,000 — were stolen near the Tisdale Weir in Sutter County.
Underwood said anyone with information should call the Sutter County sheriff’s detective division at 530-822-2310.
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