US & Canada

US beekeeper arrested over spate of California beehive thefts

Beekeeper tends a hive in Los Banos, California. 5 September 2014 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Beehives are rented out to farmers to pollinate valuable crops

A beekeeper has been arrested on suspicion of stealing thousands of beehives, worth almost $1m (£770,000), from Californian almond orchards.

Investigators say they believe Pavel Tveretinov, from Sacramento, stole hives for more than three years.

Bees are a huge industry in California where they are rented out to pollinate almond trees and other valuable crops.

Mr Tveretinov, 51, was arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property and released on bail.

Detectives investigating a long spate of thefts got a break in the case in April when a tip-off led them to an address outside the city of Fresno, the Los Angeles Times reported.

There they found Mr Tveretinov in a beekeeper suit tending to more than 100 hives. He was arrested when it became clear that the beehives had been stolen.

Authorities suspect he had been stealing the hives at night, when the bees are dormant, and renting them out for cash.

Investigators in Fresno say Mr Tveretinov is suspected of stealing 2,500 hives worth about $875,000.

Thefts of beehives have become increasingly common around the world in recent years.

In March, police in New Zealand revealed that 400 thefts had been reported over a six month period. The country's honey industry has been booming, with huge exports to markets in Asia.

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