Beehive rustlers strike for premium honey Sep 4 2004
Robin Turner, The Western Mail
A HIVE complete with honey and an entire swarm of bees has been stolen from the middle of the West Wales countryside.
The victim of the "sting", beekeeper Alan Surman, 69, of Tally, near Llandeilo, had placed his hives amongst heather on a mountainside to improve the taste of the honey. But thieves tracked them down and cut through a barbed wire fence to drive off with one of the hives, probably at night, when the bees were all inside.
Mr Surman, a retired civil servant, said he was "annoyed and disappointed" that thieves had turned to bee rustling. He said, "They seemed to know what they were doing. This was planned by someone who knows about bees.
"We are concerned that if they have taken one they will come back and continue taking more. They could take the lot and that is quite a lot of money."
Mr Surman recently moved the hives to Llanllwni in West Wales so the bees could feed on nearby heather.
He said, "Heather honey is a particularly luxurious item and heather helps bees to build up and go through the winter.
"There is a shortage of honey this year because of the bad weather in July and August. Some producers say that they are down by around two thirds on normal years."
Maureen MacLeod, of the Carmarthenshire Beekeepers' Association, said, "It is a most unusual thing to happen. I have never heard of it before.
"It has be someone who knew what they were doing. The hive must have been extremely heavy and would have taken two people to lift it.
"They must have waited until it was dark for all the bees to be at home."
Police are investigating.
Glyn Davies, president of the Beekeepers' Association of Britain said honey was an increasingly valuable product and as such attracted the attention of thieves.
He said, "Hive rustling is not a major problem but perhaps it is becoming one. There is a world wide shortage of honey for various reasons and the retail price is going up."
William Grundy, chairman of one of Britain's oldest beekeeping associations in Kent, said 2004 was a bad year for home produced honey, due to rain, which could impact on hay-fever sufferers.
He said, "Locally produced honey contains a pollen which helps to build up their tolerance, unlike imported honey."