Chico Man Arrested In Connection With Bee Theft

Feb 17, 2016

You catch more flies with honey than vinegar – maybe more bee thieves too.

A Chico man was arrested Wednesday morning on a charge of grand theft of bees. According to Butte County Sheriff Detective, Jay Freeman, 31-year-old Jacob William Spath was caught trying to rent 64 stolen bee hives to farmers in Stanislaus County to use for almond pollination. The hives were owned by Olivarez Honey Bees, Inc. They were lifted from Hicks Lane north of Chico likely using a flatbed truck and a forklift.

Freeman said it’s another bee keeper who’s being applauded with the catch. He said the person noticed the Olivarez brand on the hives and thought it was suspicious the Orland-based company would be renting so far south. Freeman said the bee keeper called Olivarez and asked the owner if any of their hives had been stolen.   

"He told that other beekeeper that he did have hives stolen," Freeman said. "They sent him a picture and it was his hives, so we had suspect information at that time."

Spath was not identified as a fellow bee keeper, but Freeman says he does have experience with the practice. As of Wednesday afternoon, Spath was in custody at the Butte County Jail.

Nearly 1,000 bee hives have been stolen in the North State over the last month – an estimated financial loss of about $350,000. The other thefts occurred in Colusa County, Sutter County and Butte County.

Spath is not currently thought to be connected to those cases.