Image: AP

Beekeepers in Belgium are on the lookout after a spike in bee thefts. This is merely the latest chapter in the ongoing saga of crime in the beekeeping world, which offers an eccentric glimpse into our climate-disrupted future.

The Guardian has the latest:

Following the disappearance of 150,000 bees from hives near the Flemish town of Tessenderlo, keepers have been advised to keep a keen eye on their insects and alert the police to suspicious activity.

Luc Aspeslagh, chair of the General Flemish Beekeepers Association, said he had received a growing number of reports of thefts from Belgian apiaries.

Such was the difficulty and danger in stealing bees that the thieves were most likely to be have come from within the beekeeping community, he said.

It’s not just Belgium, though. There’s been a spike in thefts in England, with a million bees recently stolen in what may be the largest theft of its kind, and there was a million-dollar heist in California in spring of 2017. The Miami Herald reported in February that a local beekeeper set out to solve the mystery of his missing bees—only to uncover evidence pointing to a local pastor, who was later arrested. (“I feel bad that somebody who’s a pillar of the community got caught,” said American Bee Project President Adam Locke. “But nobody is above the law.”)

The Miami Herald says the context for all this villainy is our ongoing environmental crisis:

Bees have not had an easy time in recent years. Over the last decade, commercial beekeepers who produce honey and lease out hives to pollinate crops have struggled with widespread hive collapse that occurs after worker bees suddenly flee.

It’s still not precisely clear what triggered the collapse that began in 2006 and 2007, but scientists say it’s likely tied to disease, compounded by the stress of climate change, shrinking foraging grounds, pesticides and an invasion of Africanized bees.

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The ravages of climate change aren’t just going to be horrific—they’re going to be terrible in all sorts of unexpected ways and just generally weird as hell. See you at the rooftop algae farms circa 2055!