STOCKPORT — A local beekeeper is searching for his honeybees after part of his hives were reported stolen from Stockport.
For the past decade, Stuyvesant resident Jeff MacCormack, who owns Bee Bins Apiaries in Schodack Landing, kept several hives outdoors in boxes just below Stockport Garage and Oil at 829 Route 9.
Someone took two of the boxed hives between late January and early February, MacCormack said.
“As a beekeeper, we are tasked with managing the hives and keeping the bees healthy,” he said. “Bees are inactive in winter, so you don’t visit the apiaries that often. If I do visit, it is just to check that they are still alive — usually with three- or four-week intervals between visits.”
On one of those visits this week, MacCormack said he noticed two boxes were missing and filed a police report Wednesday with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. Police are investigating the alleged theft, Lt. Wayne Lopez said Friday.
MacCormack estimates the loss of the bees will set him back about $1,500, but for the Stuyvesant beekeeper, it is not just about the loss of money.
If the bees are returned, MacCormack said he will consider dropping the charges.
“Whoever you are, you’ve taken a part of my livelihood,” MacCormack said. “They are living and breathing creatures. Taking them would be akin to going to a local dairy farm and taking a couple of cows.”
MacCormack is concerned for his bees. Taking care of them requires experience, he said, adding one misstep could destroy the entire hive.
“Chances are, if you haven’t been a serious beekeeper and you don’t know any serious beekeepers, all of that would be for nothing,” MacCormack said. “I would appreciate the return of the hive.”
After working as a truck driver for over 30 years, MacCormack retired and started his beekeeping business six years ago. Purchasing raw honey was too expensive, he said, and he became fascinated with the bees after watching a small swarm congregate on a branch near his home.
“I was amazed,” he recalled.
It has taken MacCormack a few years to learn the art and skill of beekeeping.
“I did everything wrong the first year,” he said. “Somehow, they managed to make it through winter. And over time, they increased in number. At some point, I had more honey than I could use, and I thought, this a resource I could share with the neighborhood.”
MacCormack has been sharing his bees ever since.
Honeybees are the major pollinators of U.S. crops, and add about $15 billion a year to the agricultural industry, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website. But the number of honeybee colonies has dropped significantly, from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million today due to environmental stressors, according to the USDA.
“The plight of the honeybees is that they are in decline around the world,” he said. “Anything I can do to maintain a healthy bee population is a good thing.”
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