07/05/2012 11:28 EDT | Updated 09/04/2012 05:12 EDT

Millions of bees stolen from Alberta honey producer

A honey producer near Grande Prairie, Alta., suspects another beekeeper may be responsible for the theft of millions of his bees.

"You would have to have pretty good knowledge of beekeeping," Bill Termeer said. "You'd have to have the right kind of equipment to go in there and open up these hives."

More than 150 of his 3,000 hives were taken over the past several weeks, a loss of about three million bees. Termeer estimates the theft will cost him $60,000. The loss is not covered by insurance.

"It just sickens my stomach," he said.

The province's chief beekeeper Medhat Nasr says bee thefts are rare, with only five in Alberta over the past decade. However, that number is expected to rise as new diseases and parasites kill bees.

"If somebody did not take care of their bees … their winter kill will go sky high," Nasr said. "So, either you buy new bees or look for some other sources."

RCMP are now investigating the theft of Termeer's hives. He says the incident is personally disappointing to him if it turns out someone in his industry is to blame.

"We sort of have a code of ethics that, you know, we put our equipment out in fields and … we tend to trust each other, and we tend to, often we will talk to each other if we're having problems," he said.

"And so, this is really hard to understand."