Chicago beekeeper stung by hive thieves

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A Chicago beekeeper is hoping thieves are feeling some pain after they stole several of her hives from a park on the city's Southwest Side. (WLS)

A Chicago beekeeper is hoping thieves are feeling some pain after they stole several of her hives from a park on the city's Southwest Side. The beekeeper is stunned anyone would mess with her bees.

Along busy Pershing Road, the McKinney Park Community Garden had three beehives until a week ago. One of the beekeepers drove by and saw they were gone. All that was left behind were cinder block bases.

One of the beekeepers, Jana Kinsman, was out of town and spoke to Eyewitness News by phone.

"It was just shocking. I didn't know what to say, but I immediately knew that whoever stole them knew what they were stealing," Kinsman said.

Thad Smith is the former beekeeper for Sweet Beginnings and now is a co-founder of Westside Bee Boyz. He says that right now, hives are building and nectar is coming in, and in another month, there will be the first honey harvest.

In an area where the bee colonies are down, the cost of starting a hive has gone up.Smith says to start a new hive with all the bees and equipment is about $750 and there is the potential to make hundreds of dollars in honey sales.

"It probably has to be a money thing because honey prices are just going up, bees are going up. Bees and honey are finite items, so, the more honey you sell, the more money you make," Smith said.

"I was really saddened to hear that because beekeepers love bees. We care about them, and to have to someone take them, you think, well, what are they going to do, and do they know how to take care of them? So I just thought it was a really senseless crime," said Brenda Palms-Barber, Sweet Beginnings CEO.

Palms-Barber says that bee theft is something large commercial apiaries out west may see, but bee theft in Chicago is a first.

"For someone to steal a bee hive, it's probably, I've never heard of that. Never, ever in my lifetime, have I heard of someone stealing a hive," Smith said.

A crowd funding campaign will help the beekeepers start over, but Kinsman says any new apiary will be in a secure area.

Related Topics:
newstheftbeesChicago - McKinley Park
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