By Jennifer McGraw

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — Thousands of beehives were stolen from a local beekeeper.

“I am a fourth-generation beekeeper—my parents, my grandparents, even my great-grandparents,” said Victor Cojan of http://www.vbees.com “Everything was cleaned up, nothing was left.”

The suspects swarmed his hives of an estimated 40,000 bees worth $27,000.

“Very upset, very upset,” he said while tending to the other few hundreds of hives he has left.

It was maddening to think it was some within his community, one he calls family just like the very bees he keeps.

“Those people were beekeepers. They knew something about beekeeping, they knew and they had some equipment to load them with the forklift,” he said.

It happened not far from the Sacramento airport. Victor believes thieves came in the middle of the night and took 80 beehives. Keepers like Victor are concerned this bad behavior could seriously harm the industry.

“Year-by-year it’s more difficult to keep the bees alive,” he said.

Bees are big business in California. The state is the nation’s leading honey producer with nearly a half-million bee colonies operated by 400 beekeepers in California. A new law requires all beehives to be registered, a way to keep honey bees off the black and yellow market.

“I’m looking to brand all the boxes and also the frames to be branded,” he said.

If the stolen bees aren’t cared for properly, they will likely die.

“All the work that we did during the summer to now and everything is gone, we feel of course upset and very much hurt,” Victor said.

Not hurt by the sting of a bee, but by felons jeopardizing his future

“This is my passion, this is what I do, this is what I like,” he added.

Victor hopes the community helps find his hives. Without them, he’s afraid he may have to buy more to keep up with the contracts he has already signed with farmers for next year.

If you have any information on the bees whereabouts or notice those same colored boxes seen in the video, send Victor a message to http://www.vbees.com. There’s even a cash reward.

Jennifer McGraw

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