Maybe they planned to steal the bee hives all along, or it occurred to them on the spot after pulling up a truck to illegally dump a load of brush.
Either way, Malcolm Vipond, the owner and builder of the three mating bee hives, isn’t happy about it.
“It’s impolite to dump brush on someone’s property and then take my bees,” he said. “I love my bees.”
The theft was at St. Williams Nursery and Ecology Centre in Simcoe, 20 minutes west of Port Dover.
Vipond spent $500 on lumber to build the hives himself. The queen bees he bred — each hive has four of them — cost $40 per bee.
He noticed the hives were gone last Saturday morning when he stopped to feed the bees sugar in syrup form.
He phoned Ontario Provincial Police and was surprised to hear they put out a news release about the theft. Norfolk OPP says an investigation is ongoing and anyone with information should call 1-888-310-1122 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or helpsolvecrime.com
Vipond doesn’t know why someone would steal his hives, but is certain whoever did won’t know how to care for the bees and they will die when colder weather arrives.
He had planned to keep the bees alive this winter by wrapping the hives in black tar paper.
“You have to feed them heavily, treat them for mites and disease. Thirty per cent of a colony dies off (in winter) even when they are handled properly.”
It’s not the first time the nursery has experienced theft on the property. Batteries have been stolen out of tractors and last year someone took a tank of diesel fuel.
The hives were snatched sometime between Sept. 26 and Oct. 6. The nursery is on 400 acres and grows seedlings with a focus on native plant species.
Vipond is the native seed co-ordinator; the hives have been a hobby the past four years. The bees help pollinate their pollinator plants and he sold honey on the side at the nursery.
“You get into beekeeping and can get enamoured with it because bees are pretty cool,” he said. “Pollinators are at the base of the food chain. If you don’t have them, the whole ecological system is injured.”