Bee Rustling? Really?

Liberating a newspaper* from the reception in the Luton hotel I am kind of surprised – because I had never stopped to think about it – by an article on beekeeping – and bee rustling!

We have a couple of beekeepers – and, I think two, hives on the allotments. And try to do what we know we can (there will always be those things we do not yet know about of course) to help honey bees, other types of bee and wildlife in general.

Image result for honeycomb DSC_0027

But this? From the Independent ( a fine newspaper with condensed news, contrasting views and fewer than most advertising)

“The crisis in bee numbers may be a threat to the world’s food supply, but it is also leading to a different kind of problem for apiarists – the return of the old-fashioned crime of rustling.

Fewer bees means hives, and queens, are worth more. North Wales Police are currently investigating the theft of 30,000 bees and three queens from a honey farm in Anglesey – a crime which follows a spate of similar thefts in the nearby Conwy Valley.

Witnesses report seeing a man in a protective bee-keeping suit, leading to concerns that the bee-keeping community may have been infiltrated by rogue members happy to exploit higher demand…

Bee populations fluctuate yearly and the price of swarms change accordingly. With populations being decimated by disease and environmental factors, a guide price for a starter ‘nucleus’ swarm – consisting of a queen and her entourage – has risen to the upper limit of its £150-£250 price bracket. The hive itself costs a similar price.

And as the pointedly old-fashioned crime of ‘hive rustling’ – also known as hive raiding and swarm theft – rears its head, beekeepers are turning to high-tech measures to protect their swarms.

“A hive full of bees is worth up to £500,” says Huw Evans, 46, managing director of Arnia, which monitors hives remotely. “That’s the same price as a laptop, and you wouldn’t leave one of them in a field – let alone lined up one next to the other.

“In the past five years the cost of bees has rocketed. It’s a simple matter of supply and demand: the fewer bees there are, the more they cost. The more valuable, the more likely they are to be stolen.”

We have been in central London: big beautiful London Plane trees making landscapes of the wide, tourist packed streets and warm sunshine. The high windowed walls of historic avenues cast the sunlight down onto the people: the good, the bad, the innocent and the ugly.

Image result for london plane tree  Image result for london plane tree

But there are balconies and some are festooned and harboured with plants. But not so many. I guess that the occupants are just not interested in gardening – or else why would they live two floors above the ground with no attached land to care for. But if one of the regular media crusades could just succeed and planting these up became a fashion serious fortunes would be made.

There are unexpected silent spaces in the capital: Victoria park literally next door to the Houses of parliament overlooking the usually-brown River Thames. Dean’s Court, behind Westminster Abbey.


And after a superb audio guided tour  (and strawberries and cream – why ever not?)of Buckingham Palace : opulent yet human and dripping with artwork and marvellously decorated; each room in coordinated style (The White Drawing Room, The Picture Gallery, The Ball Supper Room), the reaches of the gardens: mostly lawn and lake. So close to business, to packed roads and masses of sight-hungry tourists and commuters, but little sound and no frantic pace intrudes the spaces where coot burrow beneath the layers of white covering laid out to allow the grass to recover from the last garden party.

I wonder if here are bee hives at Buckingham Palace?

*Shameless and I know it, almost as bad as leaving with a book that I was fascinated by: Unbroken, the true life story of Louie Zamperini a U.S. 1936 Olympic athlete, liberator crewman and Japanese Prisoner of war camp survivor. Not finished yet, but it is gripping reading.


One response to this post.

  1. I shall keep an eye out for strange beekeeper-suited people in night! Seriously, if it ain’t nailed down …


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