(CNBC) — Nothing is more important to a robust almond harvest than a bee, so much so that farmers pay top dollar to borrow the pesky buggers for a growing season. But this year, soaring bee rental fees for California's $6 billion almond crop are attracting a swarm of recent hive heists and leading to stinging losses for beekeepers.
It also has created angst for some nut growers as they cope with higher costs and scramble to secure enough honeybee colonies in their orchards for the almond pollination process that begins this month.
"It seems to be picking up this year," said Butte County Sheriff's Detective Jay Freeman, who has been tracking recent bee thefts. "That could be due to the increased prices and pollination fees and also a shortage of bees coming into California as well."
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