back to article Thieves lift hives as UK bee numbers drop

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 …


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  1. Paul Hargreaves
    Paris Hilton


    £50 per hive per year? 18 hives? £900 lost, plus the bees of course. For a £6000 investment that's a pretty poor ROI given that you've got to maintain the hives, prepare and ship the honey.

    Paris, 'cos she's in it for the love too.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    the thieves just do it for the buzz?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    This is sad

    Its sad for the bees, the weather is so out of balance at the moment, even my plants are really very confused and dont know whether to grow or shed their leaves so are doing both at the same time.

    The weather is not much different all year round now, its no wonder - overcast most of the time.

    I still love being outdoors and can only hope the situation gets better, i have seen a lot less bees but only hope to bring more of them about by growing as many flowers in my garden as possible.

    I think because of the weather, the flowers are not coming out as often, and this has a knock-on effect for the bees as they need the nectar.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    It has to bee said...

    The beekeepers are getting stung with this one

    I'll buzz off, will I

  5. Steve Foster

    I guess...

    ...these will show up on the online tat auction site eBee very shortly.

    (cue groans all round, mine's the one with the muslin net and gloves)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're missing the point, Paul Hargreaves

    The primary point of the bees is to pollinate the crop, not to produce honey.

  7. Niall


    The bees are there for the fruit/flowers whatever is being produced the honey is just a bonus.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    So long and thanks for all the pollen.

    The bees are leaving the Earth while they can because they know sommat we don't, innit.

  9. Inachu
    IT Angle

    Very dumb

    Keep importing bees from other countries and you will keep seeing the decilne in bee population.

    Prognosis not good.

    Reason: Greed

  10. Jolyon Ralph

    Bees and my mother

    My parents found the conservatory and outside rear wall of their house COVERED with bees one day, thousands of them. Must have just upped and left wherever they were before, and decided that my parents' house was a fine new home.

    So my mother called a beekeeper (after some googling), and he RUSHED round with his car and specialist gear (a beeproof suit, smoke machine and a net), grabbed the lot, gave them a couple of jars of honey as a thank you, and sped off. They weren't originally his bees, but he was happy to replace those he'd lost over the year.

    Sounds like he got a good deal there, next time I'll advise them to offer the swarm on ebay. Buyer collects.


  11. dave

    not cheep cheep

    £170 for a 'starter' colony of bees

    £40 for just a queen

    there's money in those thar honey boxes

  12. Alex


    Disappointed to see that DEFRA's report has the filename "plan.pdf".

    I would have called it "PlanB"...

  13. Greg Adams

    @Paul Hargraves

    The beekeepers make most of their money by renting the bees to farmers to pollinate the fields. The honey is just a sweet bonus.

  14. Anonymous Scotsman

    £40 for a queen


    Last winter (2007), I left my heater on overnight by accident, when I woke up there was this mahoosive bee (googled and confirmed to be a migratory queen) who looked both exhausted and very lost. I did the non-molestation-of-wildlife-as-mandated-by-legislature thing and moved her outside.

    If I only i'd known >.<

    Probably have tried my hand at it come to that; would certainly drive my landlord nuts.

  15. Anonymous Coward

    I can't believe

    there's not a good Sarah joke in there somewhere.

    Honey? Stung? Buzz?


  16. Mike Banahan

    @Jolyon Ralph

    That'll be a swarm - how bees reproduce. The colony grows in spring, produces a new queen or three and a goodly chunk of the existing bees plus a queen go and look for a new place to colonise while those that remain in the original hive reproduce like fury to make up the numbers again.

    It's a strange time of year. I lifted the lids on my hives yesterday and instead of the early-season numbers I expected they were bursting at the seams replete with swathes of honey. Mind you, the rape is already in full blossom locally so it's probably all rape honey that will set solid now the weather has turned cold. Time to split them and double the numbers before the beggars swarm.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Had some bees

    It isnt that hard to move bees. All you need just some adhesive tape and mesh to close up all flying holes. After that 2 men can carry them with bare hands. At night it can be done without any protective gear as bees are dormant. Ive moved solo upto 2 compartment beehives. 3 needs 2 men. 4 or more is best if diveded for lifting.

    Oh, and i haven't had any training for beekeeping. I just read a book. Kept bees for 5 years as a hobby. So you dont need trainig for moving hives, mainly just common sense.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Paul Hargreaves

    The hives were stolen before the main nectar flow. A good colony can produce in excess of 100lbs of honey per year, roughly £3-£5 per lb of honey, so a few hundred quid per hive. Not to mention that candlemakers and woodworkers will buy pure beeswax for a not inconsiderable amount. Other profitable bee products include bee pollen, propolis, and bee venom (all used in by health nuts).

    This isn't mentioning the fee that many farmers will pay for pollination services.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ROI Indeed

    Paul Hargreaves wrote... "£50 per hive per year? 18 hives? £900 lost, plus the bees of course. For a £6000 investment that's a pretty poor ROI "

    In recognition of the inputs and outputs mentioned, as well as the inordinate amount of "sweat equity" in every commercial bee operation, the oldest saying in the bee business is...

    "If you can make a living keeping bees, you could make a fortune doing anything else."

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