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HOUSTON Reports of bee thefts are up, and the worst drought in state history is at least partially to blame, local bee experts say.

Bees are in short supply right now, said Jennifer Scott, who also belongs to the Harris County Beekeepers Association. There s no doubt about that.

A bee-hive theft at Haven, a restaurant in southwest Houston, over the weekend has people in the beekeeping community buzzing.

Oh yes, said Scott. Beekeepers are very careful now where they keep their bees, because bees are stolen.

An entire bee hive, valued at more than $1,000, was loaded into the back of a truck and stolen. Chef Rick Evans uses the bees to pollinate his on-site garden and for their honey.

People in the industry have gone so far as to give it a name: bee-rustling. It basically boils down to supply and demand. The decline in the honeybee population means fewer bees for pollination and less honey. Most beekeepers actually brand their equipment to help protect themselves from rustlers.

People are starting to realize the value of raw honey, and I think it s something we might start to hear more of in the future, said Scott.

Bees make honey, and honey makes money.

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