CARROT RIVER — An Arborfield man who stole 148 beehives worth around $60,000 was sentenced to nine months’ probation and 100 hours of community service.
Brent McKee will also pay $6,512.32 in restitution to Moyen Honey Farms Ltd. and have no contact with the owners of the bee farm outside of lawyers. He is required to participate in assessments and complete programs for mental health and personal counselling.
This was after McKee’s guilty plea for theft over $5,000, which he had previously made on July 25 at Carrot River Provincial Court. The information was amended on Sept. 5 to read that he committed mischief by interfering with the bee colonies in a value which exceeds $5,000.
The sentence was recommended by a joint submission from both the crown prosecution and defense.
The bees were taken on May 12 from Moyen Honey Farms Ltd. near Zenon Park, without the farm’s knowledge.
After a press release on May 19, the RCMP responded to a tip from the public as to the location of the hives.
The owner of the land where the beehives were located by the RCMP said to police that McKee asked if he could store the beehives on his land.
On May 20, McKee turned himself in and confessed that he had loaded the beehives and taken them on May 12. He said his actions were due to his own financial difficulties as a struggling bee farmer and that he had lost numerous hives to a bear.
“Brent was going through some extreme financial stress and essentially had a mental breakdown,” said McKee’s lawyer, George Green, before the sentence was handed out. “He hid the financial problems he was having from his wife and kids and certainly made a stupid decision here.
“Brent feels absolutely horrible for what he did, but I can tell you he’s in a much better place today as a result of a couple of things: counselling, some medical care he has received and the relief he feels that despite the financial difficulties that he previously viewed as a failure, his family is standing by him and supports him.”
Green explained that McKee’s sister is prepared to pay the restitution in full on McKee’s behalf.
“We submit that a lot of thought and work went in by the crown and defense to craft this appropriate sentence.”
A restitution assessment from the court stated that 148 hives were taken, and 10 hives were lost due to the stress of travel and not being properly fed. The 10 hives lost were worth about $4,000.
Mileage for Moyen Honey Farms Ltd having to deal with the issue was priced at $1,162.32, while wages for workers to handle the situation were priced at $1,350. This totaled a loss by Moyen Honey Farms Ltd of $6,512.32, which will be paid by McKee’s restitution.
Judge Inez Cardinal said before handing out her sentence she accepted that McKee entered his guilty plea at the earliest instance, is remorseful and is paying restitution in full.