Micro Livestock Rustlers

In Wild West Texas, livestock rustling is a long standing outlaw tradition.  Many stories have been written, movies and TV shows made about rustlers and the law men who track them down.

There is a new breed of rustler in Texas located in the Urban East Texas City of Houston, not in the rural West.  These urban rustlers are not after cattle or horses, but other livestock, “micro livestock”.   Micro livestock is a term increasingly applied to insects reared for food, but it can be applied to any insect raised by humans including bees.

Houston, Texas is buzzing with news of  Micro livestock” rustlers who stole a beehive from a garden belonging to the Haven Restaurant.   The restaurant kept the hive as a source of honey for some of their dishes and to pollenate the garden.  The rustlers seem to have some knowledge of bees.  They picked a cool rainy night and grabbed the hive before dawn, a time when the bees are least active and least likely to swarm or sting.  The rustlers were captured on video but could not be recognized because they were wearing bee veils.  The hive contained about 5000 bees and its worth estimated at $1000.

Theft of beehives is problem world wide and is on the rise as bee populations decline and hives become more valuable. The California Bee Keeper’s association offers a reward for locating stolen bee hives. Some Bee keepers have resorted to using GPS signaling devices to thwart theft. Bee Rustlers are one more problem that bee keepers must face.

Beehives, made to be easily transported are susceptible to bee rustlers

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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