FRESNO, California — This gives whole new meaning to the notion of a sting operation.
California cops busted a beekeeper they say stole nearly a million dollars worth of bees and their hives from other beekeepers around the country.
Police began their investigation into Pavel Tveretinov, 51, of Fresno, in late April, when they received a report from an almond orchard in Madera County that 100 bee hives had been stolen from their property.
The hives were found on his property and he was charged with possession of stolen property and was released on $10,000 bond. Cops say the hives belonged to a beekeeping outfit out of Missouri called Buzz Beekeeping that had leased them to the California almond farmer for the season.
But as investigators looked further, they discovered approximately 2,500 hives they believe Tveretinov stole from various parts of California, which have a total value of $875,000. Some of the hives were determined to have belonged to beekeepers from as far away as Montana.
Cops said that while it is impossible to identify who the bees belong to, the boxes in which they are stored often have markers and numbers on them that tie them to specific beekeepers.
In this case, they say Tveretinov attempted to paint over the identifying markings but that he did a lousy job as many still showed through the paint.