JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's honey bees are being targeted by criminals.
The insects play an essential part in pollinating various food sources, but they are under threat.
Beekeepers have raised concerns about the growing number of plundered hives and unregistered bee removals.
Lack of pollen, poison, extreme weather conditions and urban development continue to threaten bee populations.
And in South Africa, they face an additional challenge.
Criminals have been plundering hives in search of their most prized product, honey.
"People do not leave the hives alone, they break, rob and destroy them. So in South Africa, that is a big challenge for us. You can't put down hives anywhere, because the people will rob them," said Hannes Grobler, Bee Ware.
This mutual coexistence is also under pressure from unregistered bee removals.
"People go around and say they remove them, but they actually kill them. So there is not proper removal taking place," said Grobler.
Pollination by bees is essential to agricultural food production.
So protecting the honey bees is key, not only for their survival but also for our own.