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- Beleaguered British bees face new threat from thieves
- Colonies can sell for £200, according to keeper
- Criminals would require specialist skills and equipment
By Sam Webb
Published: 01:32 BST, 27 May 2013 | Updated: 08:47 BST, 27 May 2013>
Courageous criminal: A Welsh beekeeper says the theft of hives is on the rise, despite the inherent dangers
Brave - or foolhardy - thieves are stealing colonies of honey bees that can sell for up to £200.
Britain's dwindling bee population is already on the decline thanks to long bouts of cold weather, loss of habitat and possibly pesticides.
Now both bees and the people who care for them have to contend with thieves taking colonies.
Cardiff beekeeper Elaine Spence was distraught when one of her hives was stripped of its honey bee colony in March.
She told BBC Wales said she knows of 10 other hives being stolen in the past year, although no officials figures are kept, and estimates a colony of bees could sell for more than £200.
She said: 'I looked at my hive and there was no roof on it. I was lost for words.
'I lifted what remained of the hive to have a look and it was just empty inside.
'All bee-keepers strive to ensure that their bees last through the winter. You care for them, they're a bit like part of your family, really.
'And to come and find that they have just been taken from you - it was really distressing.'
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Ms Spence, who keeps her hives on industrial land at a secret location in Cardiff, was already reeling after losing one of her three colonies to the poor weather.
She also believes the thieves would have needed specialist knowledge and storage equipment to commit the crime.
The thieves would have needed specialist equipment to steal the bees. File picture
Bees in the UK are already under threat thanks to long bouts of cold weather, the dwindling countryside and potentially pesticides
However, the thieves may have some karmic retribution coming their way, as the bees taken are a particularly vicious batch.
She said: 'The bees that were taken were a fairly angry lot - they even managed to put me in accident and emergency last year through stinging me, so maybe there might be some poetic justice.'
The programme also looks at the effects of a recently-banned group of pesticides known as neonicitoinoids.
James Byrne of the Wildlife Trust says he fears the pesticides could be eroding bees' navigation system.
Wild honey bees are responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world's crop production, but there numbers are in sharp decline, with the finger firmly pointed at a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids.
Members of the Commons Environmental Audit Committee are now calling for a moratorium on the use of sprays containing neonicotinoids.
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331439/New-threat-British-bees-Honey-thieves-target-hives-fetch-200-keepers-struggle-colonies-alive.html