The cops have been called in to investigate a major bee heist after 40 hives were reported stolen from an Oxfordshire farm.
The thieves made away with about one million bees, which is likely to make it the biggest theft of its kind.
According to The Times, Brackley-based Beekeeper Honey had 40 hives, each weighing 20kg, taken in what the owners suspect was a long-planned sting.
Beekeeper Laura Manton said the hives were in a field that can't be seen from the road.
"So it is weird — someone must have scouted them out or knew that they were there. That's what worries us," she is quoted as saying.
Manton added that moving the hives would have been "quite an operation" and should have required some skill, especially as it was likely to have angered the bees.
The colony is expected to grow, and could produce as much as 1,200lb of honey by the end of the year – so if the thieves could find themselves in a sticky situation if they aren't experienced keepers.
Thames Valley Police has said it is investigating the theft, which is thought to have taken place last week, and is asking people to give them a buzz if they have any information.
It is not known if they are planning a honey trap as part of the operation, but they will no doubt be on the lookout for people bulk-buying anti-histamines.
However, the case is not as unusual as it might seem. Just last summer, some 40,000 bees were reported stolen from a farm in Anglesey, and 24,000 were snatched in a Doncaster heist in April the same year.
Some have blamed thefts on poor weather pushing up prices – bees are more likely to stay home and eat the honey they make when it rains – but others put it down to the increasing popularity, and competitiveness, of beekeeping.
Nonetheless, if the trend continues, keepers might have to consider decoys to get would-be thieves to beehive. ®