Published: 12:00, 17 May 2017
A beekeeper has been left devastated after thieves swiped around 240,000 bees and their hives from a farm.
Stewart Farmer said he was gutted by the theft, which has caused him to lose colonies he and his wife Lucy had spent five years building up.
The 12 hives, worth around £300 each, were taken from Little Sharsted Farm in Doddington. There were about 20,000 bees per hive, including the queen bee.
“I’m gutted,” said the father-of-four. “We were actually planning on putting Farmer’s Bees up for sale in June, when the hives were at their finest.”
The bees and their hives were taken from the farm sometime between Sunday, April 30, and Sunday, May 7.
Mr Farmer, 55, said: “Lucy and I both discovered the bees had gone missing. When we looked inside the boxes, 12 of the hives had gone. We couldn’t believe it. I felt physically sick. I just knew that we had been completely had, and my wife just burst into tears.”
Mr and Mrs Farmer, who have been married for 34 years, believe they were targeted by a fellow beekeeper and is hoping anyone with information will get in touch.
Mr Farmer, who lives in Ash, near Sandwich, said: “Whoever has done this has got to be a beekeeper as they knew exactly what they were doing.
“They were at risk of getting stung if not handled correctly, and it’s just as though someone had cherry-picked the best colonies.”
The grandfather-of-three said: “We paid £60,000 for the business five years ago, we actually remortgaged our home to buy it, and now we’ve lost every penny. We’re going to have to sell the decent colonies that are left separately to get something back.”
Mr Farmer, also a self-employed gardener, had a heart attack a couple of years ago and said it was hoped he and his wife could “drop down a gear”.
“I can’t keep working seven days a week,” he said. “I’m worn out and I need to slow down. We paid a lot of money for this and we’ll never get it back. I’ll have to carry on with the gardening for now as there’s no other way of us earning money.”
Police are investigating.
Anyone with information is asked to call 01795 419119, quoting XY/20981/17, or to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
This story also features in Bee Craft Magazine. More information at: www.facebook.com/BeeCraftMagazine