Hiveway robbery: Enormous 'angry' swarm may descend on UK after million-bee heist
A UK farming family has been left distraught after suffering the theft of 1 million bees – believed to be the biggest insect-related heist in history.
Brackley business Beekeeper Honey, run by the Manton family, found 40 of its hives had been stolen on Saturday. Each hive holds roughly 25,000 bees each, and they are believed to have been taken between February 17 and February 24.
Beekeeper Lara Manton was in charge of the stolen bees when the honey-making insects went missing. She said this time of year the Manton family carry out regular checks to ensure the hives are not damaged due to the adverse weather. It was during one of their routine checks that they discovered their hives had seemingly evaporated into thin air.
40 of our hives STOLEN! Taken from near Fringford/Bicester. Gutted! Most of our strong stock back from moors in winter spot. See before and after pics. They left a few with dodgy lids. Please RETWEET. #BeeFarmer#honey#honeybees#Beespic.twitter.com/dPpiYMxV0g— Chris Manton (@ElmTreeBees) February 24, 2018
"They were in a field between Fringford and Bicester, which you can’t see from the road. So it is weird, someone must have scouted them out or knew they were there. That's what worries us."
As it happens, moving the buzzing boxes would have been quite a feat – with each weighing about 20kg (44lb). "If you have the capability of moving 40 hives, each weighing 20kg, it is quite an operation. It is shocking,” Manton said. A mere eight hives were left behind.
Here's a video of them in November. We believe they were stolen in the last 2 weeks. If you see any hives appearing like this near you then let me know. it's a bitter blow that's for sure 😥 pic.twitter.com/t6zo0tFksF— Chris Manton (@ElmTreeBees) February 24, 2018
Although the honey money may now have dried up for the Mantons, they said they won’t let the theft knock them down. The family do worry, however, that robberies such as theirs will become commonplace.
"For us it is really sad but it is not going to shut down our business,” she said. "But for others that could be half of their whole operation. I was meant to manage these bees for my first season, so they were my bees which is really sad."
The colonies left behind - no straps! Only a few weeks ago I was advised to buy straps to stop wind blowing lids off! Wish I took them off now!!! pic.twitter.com/rF8QEHVwAP— Chris Manton (@ElmTreeBees) February 24, 2018
Manton told the Oxford Mail that moving the beehives may have angered the bees. As an added bonus to a million angry bees, the colonies are expected to grow in the coming months… and if they remain in the hives until May, they could be swarming around Oxfordshire. That’s a frightening thought.
We are currently investigating the theft of 40 colonies of Bees. The bees and hives were stolen between 01/02 and 24/02 from a location off the A4421 near Fringford. Please call 101 if you witnessed anything. #BBKAA#Beefarmers— TVP_Bicester (@TVP_Bicester) February 24, 2018
Thames Valley Police have confirmed that they are on the hunt for the hives, calling on anyone with information to call 101.
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