Thousands of Upminster bees stolen

Thieves stole thousands of pounds worth of bees, hives and their honey from an Upminster site.

The break in at Thames Chase Forest Centre, in Broadfield Farm, Pike Lane, was discovered last Friday by the bee manager Pat Allen.

They are believed to have broken through the locked gates to steal the five hives within the last month.

Mrs Allen said: “I feel absolutely gutted about it. It is not just because of the loss of the hives. These bees had been here for years.”

They had belonged to beekeeper Fred Richmond, who was a mentor to the current beekeepers. When he died they bought the bees from him.

Mrs Allen believes the thieves targeted the site because it was near the M25 and meant an easy escape.

Mrs Allen said: “They were a fantastic set of hives. I was really looking forward to opening them again when the weather got warmer.”

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She added: “They are very valuable. There can be about ₤100 worth of honey in a hive.

“The thieves could make more money by creating another colony. Each hive is worth a few hundred pounds each.

“I feel sorry for the bees. I don’t believe the person who stole them can be a good beekeeper. The roofs were left behind so they were not bothered about the equipment because they must have had their own.”

Andrew Watson, 44, of Heaton Grange, Romford, also had bees on the site.

He said: “As beekeepers we shoulder the costs of beekeeping ourselves, and this theft will cost each of us several hundred pounds.

“Bee handling is a very specialized skill. The people who stole them must have known what they were doing.

“There were several thousand in each one. Unless they are handled expertly they can become disorientated and die.”

Anyone with information can call the police on 0300 123 1212.