Who is stealing the East End’s bees?
And, in one case, replacing them with different bees?
Larry Kaiser, who owns the 1760 Homestead Farm in Northville with his wife, Margaret Feinberg, was alerted to a situation with his bees by his beekeeper, Chris Kelly, in late July.
“Chris asked if anyone had been back in the bee yard,” he recalled. “I said ‘No.’ He said ‘Something’s happened that you need to see.’ ”
The queen splitter is a long box that, in this case, kept separate 17 mini-colonies of bees, each with their own queen.
But this time, box number 17 was different from the other boxes.
Someone had removed the queen and her nucs, or nucleus colonies, which are small bee colonies created from a larger colony and centered around a queen.
Not only were the queen and her nucs stolen, they were replaced by other bees and another queen, Mr. Kaiser said.
The word “Koravel” was written on one of the frames of the bees that were left behind.
Mr. Kaiser said he has since learned that “Koravel” is a character in the video game “World of Warcraft.”
“Someone told me that this is a character in Warcraft and that Koravel is the lord of death and destruction,” Mr. Kaiser said.
“This wasn’t just a vandal,” he added. “A vandal would just take something and run. It had to be someone with knowledge of beekeeping.”
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Mr. Kelly said.
Mr. Kelly, who owns Promised Land Apiaries, manages Mr. Kaiser’s bees along with hundreds of other bees owned by bee keepers on the East End.
Promised Land Apiaries has been found disease-free and is certified by New York State to sell both nucs and queens from its bee stocks, according to their web site.
So swapping in other bees could cause problems if it’s not detected.
“We don’t know the lineage or if it’s been infected with something,” Mr. Kaiser said.
In contrast, he did know the lineage of the bees that were stolen.
“If this queen or nuc wasn’t treated for mites, it could spread if it’s not a healthy stock.” Mr. Kaiser said.
In addition, the swap wasn’t an even one, Mr. Kaiser said. The thief got away with about 1,000 to 1,500 more bees than they swapped.
Mr. Kelly said some bees were stolen in Mattituck recently, and in Hampton Bays, “literally half the hive was taken” from the Ecological Culture Center recently.
Mr. Kelly has been trying to rebuild the stock of bees on Long Island, which has been struggling to survive the winter months.
“I call it the Long Island Survivor Stock,” he said.