Sask. beekeeper has $60K of stolen bees returned, RCMP charge suspect

A Saskatchewan beekeeper who was the target of a 148-hive heist, a haul valued at $60,000, has been reunited with his bees.

Derek Moyen, who manages Moyen Honey Farms in the Zenon Park area, was busy tending to the buzzing pollinators on Tuesday and declined an interview.

The bees were taken from Moyen's property earlier this month in a brazen theft. It was the largest Simon Lalonde, the president of the Saskatchewan Beekeepers Development Commission, can remember happening in the province.

Bee theft is not common in the beekeeping industry, Lalonde said.​ He said the theft and subsequent return of the bees will mean an increased workload this summer.

"Usually you would assume, as a beekeeper, when you move a load of hives ... you lose five per cent or so of the Queen. So basically five per cent of your hives and so in that case, they've been moved twice," Lalonde said.

"There's definitely going to be an impact there."

There were 148 hives stolen. A typical hive will have about 30,000 bees at this time of year, according to Lalonde. After moves like that, the hives would be weakened.

"You'll watch all of those hives closer, which means more labour costs, more work through the summer just to make sure everything is going along how it should be."

Pat Martel/CBC

Lalonde said that many bees could produce an amount of honey worth another $60,000. If the bees had not been recovered, it could have taken another season to build up colonies of a significant size, he said.

The RCMP received a tip on Sunday about the location of the stolen colonies and the majority of the bees were recovered.

A 47 year-old Arborfield man was arrested in connection. He has been charged with theft over $5,000 and will make a court appearance next month in Carrot River.

"It's off to the races again for [Moyen]," Lalonde said. "The lingering concern is probably if it's going to happen again. It kind of puts the entire industry on edge."

Zenon Park is 223 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.