Crime - Sacto 911

West Sacramento man convicted in beehive theft

A West Sacramento man has been convicted for receiving stolen property in a case involving the theft of beehives.

A Yolo County jury on Thursday returned a guilty verdict against Viktor Zhdamirov, 51, according to a District Attorney’s Office news release.

On Sept. 11, 2012, employees of local commercial beekeepers, Tauzer Apiaries, discovered that beehives at two separate locations had been ransacked and parts of the hives had been stolen. A total of 80 bee hives were affected.

Based on the bees’ behavior, owner Mark Tauzer estimated that theft had occurred about eight days earlier, authorities said. He noted that bees alter their behavior in a predictable way when they lose their queen.

The stolen hives were distinctively marked inside and out, and Tauzer and his employee undertook to track them down. They reported finding the lids to the hives abandoned on the side of Jefferson Boulevard between West Sacramento and Clarksburg, along with an empty 5-gallon bucket of green paint. Two days later, they discovered the stolen hives, which had been partially repainted green. The Tauzer hives were mixed in with hives owned by Zhdamirov. Authorities said the Tauzer markings and brands were still visible on the hives despite attempts to putty and paint over them.

The Yolo County Sheriff’s Department and the county Department of Agriculture joined in the investigation, and the hives were recovered. Damage to the hives that were stolen and those that were ransacked totaled $65,000, authorities said.

A sheriff’s deputy contacted Zhdamirov, who reportedly admitted owning the apiary, taking the hives and trying to cover up the markings.

Zhdamirov is to be sentenced April 4 by Yolo County Superior Court Judge Stephen Mock.