A California man has been arrested on 10 felony counts of possession of stolen property this week after cops say he stole thousands of bee hives worth nearly $1 million.
Pavel Tveretinov was booked into the Fresno County Jail on Monday by sheriff's deputies who allege the Sacramento man stole hives from California as well as other states over the last few years.
Investigators also believe that, in addition to keeping some of the bees himself, the 51-year-old sent some of the approximately 2,500 stolen hives to farms in multiple states, where renters paid him fees in exchange for the borrowed pollinators.
All told, police believe Tveretinov stole around $875,000 worth of bees over the last three years.
Tveretinov was initially booked into the Madera County Jail with a bail of $10,000 in April. He later posted the necessary bond and was released.
"[Investigators] found stolen bee hives at two other locations in Fresno County," the Fresno County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Facebook. "It is believed Tveretinov is responsible for stealing these hives during the last three years from various parts of California. He would then redistribute them to different places in California, as well as other states, and collect money for the rental of the hives."
All of the charges against Tveretinov are related to the allegations he stole beehives.
His bail was set at $67,500.
The hives that police say they've recovered belong to Buzz Beekeeping of Springfield, Mo. The company, like many other out-of-state beekeepers, contract with California growers to help with the pollination of their crops.
Almond trees are most popular for this service in the Central Valley.
Detectives have contacted several owners of the hives and made arrangements to return them.
One victim traveled all the way from Montana to collect his bee boxes. That man, beekeeper Lloyd Cunniff, told KGPE-TV he was all but financially ruined when his bees vanished from a California orchard in 488 beehives he had taken to California to pollinate almond trees.
Cops say this remains an ongoing investigation and detectives continue to work to identify other victims and return their property to them.