Colin Sawyer, an Ashford beekeeper, rang me to let you all know that he had three hives stolen last week. They were in the countryside and because vegetation had died down over winter were visible from the road. There were two double brood nationals and one single brood. They were home made from marine plywood which are easily identified by him. If you hear of anyone offering similar hives for sale please let Colin know. You will have received his phone number in an email from me (Julian).
Also a Sidcup beekeeper had twelve of his best colonies, including drone and queen breeders taken during the week. One apiary was virtually cleared out, the other nearby had three colonies taken. All were on Langstroths, all frames had the month and year written in red felt tip pen on the top bar. Only good colonies were taken, anything a bit iffy was left behind. This suggests that it was a beekeeper.
Those of us that have our hives in the open and accessible to the public should take this event very seriously. The reality is although most beekeepers try to help and support each other there will always be an exception. Our hives and particularly our bees are very valuable as anyone looking at the cost of bees from suppliers will realise.
To protect our hives the police will always advise you to put a very visible marking on objects to make them either unattractive to steal or difficult to hide their identity. To that end a large name or postcode on the side of the hive with a branding iron or router is a good idea. Also every frame should be marked – ideally when new with your name or postcode or phone no on the top with a black spirit marker which will soak into the softwood. These two measure may well deter and will certainly raise suspicions in anyone who sees them or who is offered them for sale. Also if your hives are painted a subdued grey or brown colour and hidden from view they are less likely to come to other people’s attention.
Let us hope that this is a one off but at the same time make sensible precautions.