"It makes me feel like I'm being watched," said Master Beekeeper Chris Kelly.
For years, Kelly, who owns Promised Land Apiaries, has been breeding and raising a type of bee specialized to live on Long Island and survive the area's tricky winters. They're called Long Island Survivor Stock bees.
"I think there's a value to that," he said.
The bees that were stolen from 1760 Homestead Farm in Riverhead, the Ecological Culture Initiative in Hampton Bays and from a farm in Mattituck all were Survivor Stock bees being raised by Kelly.
On July 29, Kelly was tending to the bee yard at 1760 Homestead Farm when he noticed the hive's frame and queen bee cage had been replaced with ones he didn't recognize. The name "Koravel" was written on top of the frame.
The bees that were stolen had been replaced with hundreds of new bees and a new queen.
"This is not the work of an amateur," said 1760 Homestead Farm owner Larry Kaiser. "This is not vandalism. This is someone stealing. This equates to someone stealing a great lineage breeding mare."
Kaiser filed a report with Riverhead Town Police and has placed surveillance cameras throughout his property.
"Someone, somewhere, knows something," he said.
At the same time Kelly made the discovery at Kaiser's farm, those at the Ecological Culture Initiative in Hampton Bays realized an entire top half of one of their hives had been stolen. The bees and queen bee had not been replaced, as they had been at Kaiser's farm.
"Whoever did it knew exactly what they were doing" said Sister Kerry Handal with the Ecological Culture Initiative. "They knew when to do it."
The hives are located on the property of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood Retreat Center.
Handal said the cost to replace the hive is $1,200 - $1,400. She said they filed a report with police.
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