A beekeeper in Neederweert in Limburg has reported the theft of 15 beehives containing thousands of bees, leaving just a single hive.
Harrie Feijen, who is 86 and has been keeping bees for 25 years, said the thieves cut through wire to access the orchard and made away with the hives late on Tuesday night.
Feijen said the thieves “went to some trouble” getting the hives, which were situated a few hundred metres from the road and weigh some 50 to 60 kilos each. “I wonder who would go to such lengths”, he told local broadcaster Limburg1.
He also said that whoever took the hives was knowledgeable about both where to find them and how to handle them. The hives have to be completely closed off and kept upright or the bees will escape, he said.
According to beekeeper Philip Apeldoorn, Dutch beehives are considered to be of good quality, which makes them a target for thieves. “Hives which are stolen are taken abroad and sold, bees and all,” he said.
A beehive costs around €150 while a colony of bees costs around €200, double that if there is honey in the hive.
It is not the first time beehives have been targeted by thieves. Last years beekeepers reported 11 thefts, prompting some to install GPS trackers inside the hives. Other countries, such as Britain, France and the United States, have also reported and increase in thefts.
The biggest beet heist took place in Canada some seven years ago when 181 beehives were stolen in one night, containing five million bees and causing hundreds of thousands of dollar in damage. The thief was eventually caught but the bees had flown.
Beekeepers whose hives have been stolen can apply for compensation from the Dutch Beekeepers’ Association which pays out €140 per hive.
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