RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Long Island's East End is abuzz with word of a strange series of thefts.
Someone is raiding beehives, and they're getting away with valuable queen bees, CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday.
At the 1760 Homestead Farm, there was a stinging theft. Back in late July, someone stole more than 1,000 bees.
"They took the frames, the queen, the mated queen, as well as the remaining colony," farm owner Larry Kaiser said.
Kaiser said the thief swapped out his bees with replacement bees, taking a special queen bee that's part of a breeding project to develop honeybees that survive Long Island winters.
Whoever did it also scrawled a bizarre clue, a video game character's name.
"Which translates to the lord of death and destruction, so we were not sure if this is sabotage. We don't know the lineage of the bees that were replaced. We don't know if they were infected with a mite or a disease," Kaiser said.
Adding to the mystery, Kaiser learned, the bee bandit has struck at least twice before.
Days earlier, at the Sisters of St. Joseph's property in Hampton Bays, where the Ecological Culture Initiative has a pollinator garden. Half of their bee hive stolen. It had been filled with Long Island survivor bee stock.
"Extremely, extremely disheartened. Bees are an important part of our ecosystem. The person knew exactly what they were doing and the value of what they were doing," said Kerry Handal of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Their pollinator garden grows vegetables for a food pantry.
"We are giving and they are stealing and that's just bad karma," said Jeff Schultz of the Ecological Culture Initiative.
"I'm very upset," Kaiser added.
Kaiser said he's devastated someone stole from a small farm that relies on bees to pollinate.
"They wanted their own Long Island survivor stock without having to do the work behind it," he said.
Now, police in the towns of Riverhead and Southampton are investigating.
The value of the take? The farmers said, to them, the special bees are priceless. The farmers said they don't know yet what kind of impact the theft will have on their crops and flowers.
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