In the Central Valley of California, bee thefts have become so common that beekeepers are turning to Silicon Valley tech for help. They have started using GPS tracking, secret cameras, and other anti-theft tech to keep their colonies safe. That’s right!
Beekeepers’ New Approach
In the past year, according to the AP, nearly 1,100 beehives – worth hundreds of thousands of dollars – have been reported stolen in the Central Valley of California. And that’s very important, as the Central Valley produces a quarter of all produce grown in America and bees are an important part of that, due to their pollination techniques!
In fact, this demand requires nearly 90% of all honeybee colonies in America to end up in the Central Valley. According to police, due to all the colonies being in a similar location, organized gangs steal the colonies and quickly resale them, after removing any markers.
One recent beehive heist even resulted in 384 colonies vanishing at the same time. “We have do what we can to protect ourselves,” explained Helio Medino, a beekeeper who had 282 hives stolen last year. “Nobody can help us.”
So, now, the beekeepers are taking matters into their own hands…
Controlling Thefts With GPS Tracking
To stop the increasing thefts, Denise Qualls, a “pollination broker” (someone who connects growers and beekeepers), has started working with the new startup Bee Hero to increase security on the beehives.
First, Bee Hero recommends placing names and phone numbers on all the boxes in multiple locations. Second, they advise installing security cameras to watch where the beehives are kept. Finally, they recommend two ways to track the beehives. The first is heavy-duty tracking devices, like the one seen above. They also work with beekeepers to tag their boxes with a product named SmartWater CSI, a forensic tool used by police in stolen property cases. The invisible liquid can only be seen under a UV light, even through paint, allowing beekeepers to mark their box permanently.
However, these are expensive options for beekeepers. So, Rowdy Jay Freeman, a Californian sheriff’s detective, has worked with prosecutors to start charing those who steal beehives with a livestock theft crime. “Stealing one or 10 or 100 hives would result in the same charge,” he said.
Hopefully, these techniques will work, and California will see a drop in beehive thefts soon!
Sources: Fox 10 Phoenix, MSN, The Guardian