‘Devastated’ beekeepers left without honey as hives stolen

Beekeepers in Welwyn. Picture: Supplied by Lieva Nation

Beekeepers in Welwyn. Picture: Supplied by Lieva Nation - Credit: Archant

Two beekeepers have been left devastated after their hives were stolen by thieves.

Beekeepers in Welwyn. Picture: Supplied by Lieva Nation

Beekeepers in Welwyn. Picture: Supplied by Lieva Nation - Credit: Archant

Police have confirmed that between November 23 and November 30, the beehives containing bees were taken from somewhere in Welwyn Hatfield.

However Lieva Nation, a committee member on Central and South Herts Beekeeping Association, formally Welwyn Bee Association, explained that she cannot disclose the address – near Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City – from where the hives were taken as the group fears more thefts.

She said the two beekeepers are “very upset” by the theft of their hives, which make honey for their families.

“It’s not easy to steal hives,” Lieva said. “They’re very easy to damage and hard to move. You’ve go to strap them in, on a truck or a big car.

“The average person couldn’t, so it’s someone who knows what they’re doing.”

Bee rustling has become more of a crime in recent years and a report in the Sun estimates that millions of bees have been stolen in the last year.

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Lieva estimates that each of the hives stolen were worth £1,000 in total, with the colony and all the equipment.

“We’ve never had this happen before in our association but they are very valuable,” she added.

“It takes a long while to get a colony established and these type of thefts are becoming more common.

“I’m sure there is a black market for it.”

Lieva also explained that it’s likely these hives cannot be sold before the summer, as they need to keep the Queen alive somewhere in the meantime.

“If they know what they’re doing they can do it,” she added.

Her group, which is made up of volunteer beekeepers, sells its honey to the local community at different events such as farmers markets, and to green grocers, while keeping some for home use.

“Half a dozen sell through small shops as well,” she said. “My grandchildren love it.”

Now, she said they will try to find an alternative site nearby, which has less road access and will be easier to keep the hives hidden.

The Central and South Herts Beekeeping Association, like the British Beekeeping Association that it is part of, also deals with honey bee swarm removals.

Any witnesses or anyone with information of the theft should call the non-emergency number 101, quoting references 41/96434/20 and 41/96337/20.

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