Thieves make off with tens of thousands of bees in Japan
Apr 19, 2010, 7:21 GMT
Toyota - Criminals have made repeated bee thefts around Japan, taking tens of thousands of the insects and making the lives of strawberry farmers difficult.
Thefts of the insects, which are necessary for the propagation of the fruit, have been recorded in the central prefecture of Shizuoka and other areas.
'I've been a farmer for 58 years, but I've never known of anyone stealing bees,' an 83-year-old woman told the Jiji news agency.
'Without them, nothing will come of my crop,' another farmer was quoted as saying.
In the city of Kuniichi alone, 10 cases with about 60,000 bees were taken in one night, the report said.
The lack of bees have driven up their prices, and experts have surmised that the perpetrators are taking the bees so they could sell them on for more money.
Prices also increased after Japan banned the import of the pollinators three years ago to prevent infections. Although the import ban was lifted last year, the bees did not breed as quickly as hoped because of a cold summer in Japan.
Japan also is home to rising numbers of people who raise bees as a hobby, further increasing demand for the insects.