Feeds

Thieves lift hives as UK bee numbers drop

Beekeepers feel sting of 'apian black market'

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

The UK's beekeepers are facing a new threat to their hives in the wake of a dramatic decline in honeybee numbers - the wholesale theft of colonies for sale on a burgeoning "apian black market", as the Times describes it.

The value of honeybees has risen sharply as populations succumb to a combination of threats including Colony Collapse Disorder and wet summers. Accordingly, thieves who apparently have experience handling bees and the inside knowledge to sell them on have begun to illegally exploit the crisis.

Earlier this month the Great Little Honey Company at Rowley Hill Farm in Stretton, Staffordshire, was relieved of 18 hives whose occupants pollinated the farm's strawberry plants. Beekeeper Richard Lindsey explained: “It’s soul destroying. I went to check on the hives and all that was left were the stands. It had been cleaned out completely.

“It must have been someone who knew what they were doing - someone in the trade. You would need equipment to load them on to a truck and they’re not easy to lift. And you would have to know what you were doing - if you drop them or let them out you’d get badly stung up without protection.”

He continued: “It will cost me £6,000 to replace them. And that’s without taking into account the loss of breeding stock I had, and I’ve lost the honey crop off them this year, which was worth £50 per hive at least.”

John Howat, secretary of the Bee Farmers’ Association, told the Times: “I imagine that the increase in demand for hives from the public following all the press coverage about bees over the last year, together with the very high prices now being demanded, due to shortages following losses has prompted this spate of thefts.

“Worryingly, it is obvious that whoever is doing it has experience in keeping and moving bees. I always thought we beekeepers were a small but honest crowd of people."

Lindsey suggested the thieves were out for financial gain, rather then the bees themselves. He said: “There could well be a black market. Bees aren’t identifiable and the demand for bees from beginners far outweighs supply. I know of someone who had 12 hives stolen, another five hives and another four. It’s definitely worth someone’s while to steal bees, divide the hives up and sell them on.”

Lindsey and his fellow apiarists will doubtless be hoping that the government's "Healthy Bees" plan - announced last month - will do something to restore the UK's honeybee populations and make their hives less tempting targets.

The plan's main objective is to "sustain honeybee populations by supporting beekeepers to ensure effective biosecurity measures are adopted to minimise risk from pests and disease", and there are full details here. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
LIFE, JIM? Comet probot lander found 'ORGANICS' on far-off iceball
That's it for God, then – if Comet 67P has got complex molecules
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.