UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who has covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

May 14, 2009

PROBLEMS WE HADN'T STARTED WORRYING ABOUT YET

Guardian, UK - Beekeepers stung by pestilence and poor weather are being warned to protect their hives from rustlers as thefts rise to unprecedented levels due to a national shortage of bees.

The sharp decline in Britain's honeybee population following the arrival of varroa mites and two consecutive harsh winters has led to premium prices for top-quality bees and a black market trade in stolen hives. In the latest incident, more than a million were taken from a strawberry farm near Telford, Shropshire. Thefts of 12 hives in Whitby, North Yorkshire, and three from the New Forest in Hampshire have also been reported, as well as cases in Norfolk and the West ­Country. . .

Experts believe the bees may have been stolen to order, destined for beekeepers whose own hives have failed.

Second-hand hives that used to sell for L30 can now fetch more than L200. With each hive capable of producing around 50lb of honey a year, victims stand to lose thousands of pounds.

And the culprits may be in the beekeeping community. Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeepers Association, said: "To steal bees, you have to know what you are doing. Beekeepers are now on the lookout. It's a vicious circle. You lose more bees, the price of bees goes up and the risk of them being stolen goes up."

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