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Bee industry buzzing: Stolen hives recovered in California

FRESNO, Calif.  — The bee industry is buzzing over the arrest of a man accused of stealing thousands of hives worth nearly $1 million from California’s almond orchards in one of the biggest such thefts on record.

The case has thrown a spotlight on a business many city slickers probably never knew existed: Beekeepers in the U.S. move their colonies around the country by truck and rent them out to farmers to pollinate their flowering crops.

In California, which relies on bees brought in from such places as Missouri, Montana and North Dakota to produce more almonds than any other place in the world, hives began to vanish overnight across several counties three years ago.

The break in the case came in late April, when a tip led authorities to a ramshackle “chop shop” of stolen beehives on a corner lot outside Fresno.