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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Wetzel Co. West Virginia, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default Bees ripped off?

    I am part of a group of beeks for West Virginia. We sent 400 hives to Ca. through a broker in Ohio. Our bees were inspected before they went for diseases, strenth, etc. They were delivered in December. The growers claimed they were in good shape. A month ago we received good reports. Now that the pollination season out there is over the growers claim that all our bees are diseased, most of them dead and they are not going to pay a cent. It will cost us $44 for each hive to get them back.

    The main person running this operation has sent bees to the same farm for 7 years the only difference was the bee broker was different this year.

    Much of this sounds fishy. I was told that a load of bees only cost 7,000 dollars to haul. That is roughly $16 a hive, not $44.

    It seems that we sent bees, they used them, then stole them.

    Is there anything we can do? Lawsuit? Should we send someone to inspect them?

    Any suggestions would help.

    Thanks
    Ed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,159

    Default

    ED, I would first get a third party COUNTY inspection done, ASAP.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default

    I'm assuming you had contracts? I would start there. Might be something in the regulation of interstate commerce which may help as well. I would want somebody there to represent the group at this point. A plane ticket and a hotel is a cheap option in comparrison to the potential loss at this point. A contact with WV Apirary inspection may be a good idea as well. An official inquiry might help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Lancaster, Ky. / Frostproof Fl.
    Posts
    983

    Default

    Quite simply I WOULD BE ON AIRPLANE TOMORROW.... Checking air rates from huntington...$500-700. I would also get in contact with county inspector...but would be there with him! Now some other possabilities.....It was not a good year for bees....alot of rainy cold weather until the last 10 days. My bees were in pretty good shape(20-25 lbs stores and up) However my broker fed mine 2 weeks ago...said they would have starved in a week if she didnt. Alot reports of hungry hives. How much stores were in them?? Where are they in CA? Mine were in Chowchilla(15 miles north of Fresno). Father south was alittle dryer I think. Did anyone check stores?? The cost of $44 seems like a ripoff! Like I said I would be a plant tomorrow...first flight out. Would not tell them until I was there! Cost about $2 to 2.40 mile. So your 7k is a little high ........Let me know I can get you a rate from 2.00 to 2.30 depending on how quick you need them! Probably cost you about 5k to 5500.00. Broker told me yesterday mine looked great...truck on way to get them now. Rick

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Auger Hole, MN
    Posts
    433

    Default

    look for an attorney also.

    make some calls to Nodak or Sodak or CA where you have a better of finding someone with some understanding of the bee biz.

    show them you mean business.

    that does sound fishy. best of luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default

    Yep, an attorney would be a good idea. I'm assuming we're talking about $40K+ in unpaid hive rentals + the value of the hives which should double the total value. I'd get an attorney to protect $80K. If each beekeeper pitched in 10-15 bucks a hive you'd have a retainer fee and a place to start from.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Waynesboro, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default

    if you decide to get an attorney, make sure you organize the paperwork and reports that you have into a concise file, include all reports, if they are verbal make sure the attorney knows who received the report, who gave the report, etc. and do a background check if you can on the broker on your end....all of this will save you time that you would have to pay for the attorney on an hourly basis. It sounds like it would be worth finding someone out there to represent your interests.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Pigeon Falls, WI
    Posts
    2,527

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett View Post
    ED, I would first get a third party COUNTY inspection done, ASAP.
    Definately have this done asap. With the rainy weather and lack of forage time they could have starved out if your broker didn't watch them good enough. Very fishy when they accept your product then say it is no good when they are done with them. I'm sure there are a few beeks out there that could do that for you. I would in-a-heartbeat if I was out there. I enjoy pulling the stinky fish out of the barrel for all to see. As for the trucking part $7,000 sounds close. I had prices last year from $2.50-$3.00 per loaded mile with the high fuel costs.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,159

    Thumbs Up

    Quote Originally Posted by Beeslave View Post
    I'm sure there are a few beeks out there that could do that for you. I would in-a-heartbeat if I was out there..
    Beeslave, that's a good idea, Ed, if you need my help please PM me.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Wetzel Co. West Virginia, USA
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for the good advice. I found out that our bees were/are??? in Delano CA below Bakersfield. I know nothing about CA or this particular area. Perhaps there are many growers there.

    I also found out tonight that someone from our area (not in our group) lost about 500 hives. He flew out. He saw fifteen hives with my last name on them with no frames, just empty hive bodies. Somebody stole them. We were told that they were full of disease and also ccd. We have not had much CCD around here, but it beats all, if when the bees leave they take the frames with them.

    Does CA have any reembursment program for such cases? I am at a loss, thanks, Ed.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Waynesboro, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    58

    Default

    It seems to me that if a "grower" has declared the hives diseased and taken it upon himself to destroy the hives, then he'd better have some pretty good evidence of that disease. It still sounds to me like you need a lot better explanation and accounting for you property than what you're getting. I wish you luck with this.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Pigeon Falls, WI
    Posts
    2,527

    Default

    Now it sounds like you need a good lawyer and your broker is at fault since they were in his care. Unless in the contract there was fine print of them not beeing responsible for the loss/theft of your bees. Good luck solving this issue. Keep us updated.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,159

    Default

    ED, document everything, if you don't have the time buy a tape recorder and log with DATES & NAMES of everything. DO NOT RELEY ON YOUR MEMERORY.
    Best of luck, Keith

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,479

    Default

    I would bet that the problem is not with the grower but with some form of middle man. What is this about a broker in Ohio? And one in Calif.? 99% of the farmers are straight shooters can't say the same about "brokers".

    Was there a " Buckeye Bee Co. " involved? Somebody is ripping you off.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tulare County, CA USA
    Posts
    1,380

    Default

    Tulare County Sherrifs Department has an ag crimes unit that does nothing but deal with this kind of stuff and they're very good at it. 559-798-1276 is the main office number that I have on file. They should be able to send you in the right direction.
    Delano is on the border so they may be in Kern county in which case I don't know much about their policies.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,497

    Default

    You need to get things in order. It sounds like you are going to have to do several things.

    First. Gather up all your documentation. Things like a contact if you have it. If you don't there are other things you can put together. A shipping invoice from the driver who shipped your bees. An affidavit from the driver about where he delivered them and to whom. Also a copy of whoever signed for your hives in Calf. Also anything else that can verify you shipped your bees and how many. This means affidavits or sworn statements from the other beeks in your area. (also pics of them being loaded etc if you have them) I would contact the broker and get an explanation of exactly what is going on. If he refuses to speak to you or return your calls leave him a message that if he doesn't return your calls within 24 hrs you will be filing criminal charges against him. Be prepared to file charges. Get the contact information of the local cops where your bees were dropped off. Try and find out which grower(s) was involved. Contact them, let them know what has happened and if they have any information. If they refuse to give any information advise them that you intend to file a criminal complaint and have an investigation launched. Document everyone you speak with, every message you leave. This means times, numbers dialed, and exactly what message you left or the content of any conversation.

    Next if you have gotten no where in 24 hrs. File a report of theft with the local and state police. Also notify the California Department of Agriculture about the incident and that you filed a report of theft with the local and state police. You will need information when you file your report so get anything you can. This includes the brokers names, addresses, telephone numbers he used. When you contacted him, etc, etc. Any and all details. Also you need to figure out what your lose was from pollination, shipping and the cost of equipment and hives so have that ready. Break it down. Just the equipment and bees alone make it a felony. Additionally, file a report with your local police. If you do this first, have their case number for the cops in Calf. and vise versa if you file in Calf. first give their case number to your locals. Check with each department. Because of the interstate nature of the theft and the amount you may be able to get your local FBI involved. It can't hurt to call.

    If the broker starts getting calls from the cops in two different states and the FBI he may decide to get your bees back to you with your fees.

    Find an attorney that can work this kind of case. If they have absconded with your bees you will want to file a civil action against your broker and any grower that is involved. If the growers are not a part of this and it was the broker then they will put pressure on the broker but either way, file against everyone involved. Remember to keep an accounting of your time and any expenses for this process. You should claim those and your attorneys fees in your civil suit.

    Hope that helps. PM me if you need any more guidance in this. This type of thing boils my blood.
    Life is tough, but it's tougher when you're stupid. John Wayne

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Swalwell, AB
    Posts
    579

    Default

    Good advice, I would say. Just a word of caution, though, In some jurisdictions, threatening to file criminal charges is an offense. Either you do or you do not, but threatening is not allowable. Saying that you have spoken with police is OK, though, AFAIK.

    Personally, I would call one of the several reputable brokers in the area, even if they were not involved at all to this point. They are good guys and have an interest in fair dealing even if they do not personally get a cut. (PM me if you don't know any).

    If he refuses to speak to you or return your calls leave him a message that if he doesn't return your calls within 24 hrs you will be filing criminal charges against him.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camarillo, CA, USA
    Posts
    308

    Default More info

    Please refrane from further posts on this specific topic.

    As being versed in this specific situation, not all facts have been presented to the forum.

    I have personally seen this group of bees, because I needed extra hives to fullfill a contact. Upon inspection of the hives in question in the Bakersfield area, I refused to put them on my truck. After inspecting 28 pallets and finding over half empty or 1 frame of bees I quit and went home. Out of this group I found 6 hives that would minimaly meet pollination standards.

    Again please leave this topic alone, the parties involved need to figure out a solution and information given based on partial info serves no one. And yes they are in contact with each other.

    Thank you
    Larry Pender,Jubilee HoneyBee Company,Camarillo, CA

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Norfolk, Nebraska
    Posts
    135

    Sad Welcome to the club

    Been there and been had too.

    I am with the rest about getting on the first flight out unannounced. Wish we would have done that in hindsight. I was ready to go but it did not work out. Make it work if you want any chance of coming out on the deal.

    Different broker sounds like the problem if the bees did deteriorate. Previous guy probably took care of business and this one did not. On a deal like ours and yours, one is at the mercy of the person on the other end.

    Shipping from Nebr during the height of fuel prices was $4100 18 months ago. Also have loading/unloading but sounds like they are channeling their season's losses through you.

    Our situation was with a beekeeper (third generation but newbie commercial operator). Besides not knowing what he was doing was (in hindsight) unscrupulous. Said all the right things. 3 of us in on the deal. One of the others said he has never been took on judging character as bad as we got it. In our case we have identified at least 2 others he got (one a regular contributor on beesource). He rebounded as only part of his eggs were in this basket. We and the other are sideline/small commercial are still reeling.

    Another long time commercial operation in our area got took too. He (third generation commercial beekeeper) had a successful long term relationship with a beekeeper. When management of that operation transferred to the sons he took a huge hit. Broke him.

    Not whining, just educating. Get out there if you want to resurrect anything that might be left.

    Bob Nelson
    Last edited by Bob Nelson; 03-12-2009 at 09:35 PM. Reason: typos

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Norfolk, Nebraska
    Posts
    135

    Default

    I was typing my reply and missed the previous post. My info is still relevant. Bees maybe did deteriorate but one has to wonder why.

    So far as us and the other operators I cited the bees sent were exceptional and crap came home. The woes of our industry may be at fault but in our case it was poor practices and pretty much being ripped off.

    Bob Nelson

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