Misunderstanding at center of un-bee-lievable mystery

Friends raising funds to help Northglenn bee keeper rebuild his colonies

Scott Taylor
staylor@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/17/20

What began as a suspected theft of 30 hives from a Northglenn lot and the bee-napping of more than 30,000 of the honey-making insects turned out to be a misunderstanding. Beekeeper Boris Cherny, 90, …

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Misunderstanding at center of un-bee-lievable mystery

Friends raising funds to help Northglenn bee keeper rebuild his colonies

Posted

What began as a suspected theft of 30 hives from a Northglenn lot and the bee-napping of more than 30,000 of the honey-making insects turned out to be a misunderstanding.

Beekeeper Boris Cherny, 90, stopped by the Karl’s Farm lot where he keeps his hives Feb. 8 to discover they’d been removed.

Shannon Sublette, whose family owns the property, said that a caretaker had asked a friend to remove some junk from another part of the property. The family is set to close on a sale of the property on March 31 and the caretaker was working to get the property ready.

“He likely meant materials like fencing, paneling, gates, barn wood, pallets, etc.,” Sublette wrote in an email. “However, the friend took this too far, exploring pieces of the property that had been off limits and proceeded to help himself to all the hives.”

Sublette said Cherny had kept the hives as a hobby for years, building them himself.

“Zoya, his partner, had given him his first two colonies years ago as a hobby,” Sublette said. “He knew about bee keeping from his childhood and so, over time, they did it together. Zoya had breast cancer and they both really believed in the healing power of the honey.”

The pair tended the bees together, adding hives over time, until they needed a new place to keep them. Sublette said they’d kept the bees on her family’s property for the last nine years, paying rent occasionally with honey from his hives.

“It was just a nice arrangement between, Boris, Zoya and my parents,” Sublette said.

Cherney had checked on his hives on Feb. 1, noting that they hives were all there and accounted for. He thought the worst when check back a week later.

“Bees don’t hibernate, but they expend a lot of energy, buzzing and vibrating to keep the hive and the queen warm,” Sublette said. “It’s been cold, and when he went back to check on them later, the hives were gone and there was footprints in the snow. So we estimate they were taken sometime between the Feb. 1 and the 6th.”

In all, 30 hand-made hives, each about two-feet square and containing 30,000 bees, had been removed.

Sublette said Cherny went into a deep depression and didn’t get out of bed while the story was picked up by local Colorado television station and even by the BBC. Sublette said she heard from many people who noted hives being sold on the Internet and passed along conspiracy theories.

“I had one woman tell me about a podcast that said bees around the country were being stolen and shipped to California to help pollinate the almond crops,” Sublette said.

Meanwhile, Northglenn police were hot on the bees’ trail, issuing a statement on Feb. 12 that it had been a misunderstanding.

Sublette said the hives did end up being sold via the internet and were traced to a lot in Golden.

“The buyer, who has been nothing but forthcoming and lovely to work with, came to the police immediately once he heard the story in the media,” Sublette wrote. “The buyer reports that perhaps only nine of the 30 hives were viable and is willing to return all the beehives and remaining colonies to Boris and Zoya. However, we are not sure how many times the bees were moved and since already at least two-thirds of them were lost, another transition is not favorable.”

Sublette said her family and Cherny’s friends are working to set up a gofundme.com page to raise enough money to replace the colonies he lost.

“They way people have pulled together and showing their support, concern and interest in the bees is wonderful,” she said. “The financial aspect is one thing, but it’s really more of an emotional loss. Boris is someone who would go out and work with the bees without wearing any protective equipment. It’s like they had a mutual understanding and it was really something to watch.”

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