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Essex County beekeeper feeling the sting of recent roadside hive heist

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A Cottam area beekeeper is putting up a thousand dollar reward for information leading to the return of seven stolen bee hives nearly a month ago.

Sun Parlor Honey co-owner Tom Congdon said it was disappointing to learn the hives were removed from an apple orchard near Ruthven less than one day after they were delivered for pollination on April 25.

“It's pretty frustrating,” Congdon said. “You do this for your livelihood and somebody just thinks that they can come along and help themselves.”

Congdon estimated the seven hives, or colonies, contained about 250,000 bees, each worth roughly $400-$450.

“It's like I guess everything else, people stealing cars and all that crap that's going on right now. I’d imagine everybody's pretty frustrated with it,” Congdon said.

“I just would encourage anybody that knows anything about where these colonies might be sitting, to let us know so that we can recover them because if somebody's not going to properly manage them, the colonies will be lost shortly. They'll just die out without proper management.”

Sun Parlor Honey co-owner Tom Congdon in Cottom, Ont., on Thursday, May 23, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

Congdon, who is also a director with the Ontario Beekeepers’ Association, suspects whoever took the hives knew what they were doing, suggesting it’s an unusual things to steal from the road. “It seemed like from the way things were picked up in the orchard there that somebody had some general knowledge.”

Congdon told CTV News a report had been filed with the Ontario Provincial Police, pointing out that the equipment is branded with the letters ‘RGC’, noting some of the equipment may be painted white.

“It's pretty disgusting when people take somebody else's property off of private property,” said Bill Medel, owner of E&B Medel Orchards, where the bee hives were taken from.

Medel claimed they have the same issue with people stealing fruit from their roadside orchards.

“They have this thinking that because they see an orchard and there's fruit on the trees, it's free for the picking. And you know, when we catch the people, we basically say, hey, what if I came into your house and I just took $20 out of your wallet,” Medel explained.

He continued, “An orchard or a farm is private property and people have no rights to go onto private property, whether it be for fruit, taking pictures or anything because you don't know. Are we in that orchard? Are we using equipment? All of a sudden, you know, there's going to be an accident because somebody is trespassing through your orchard when you don't expect them to be there.’

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