Thank you to all the kind people who have supported me since Sunday 19 April, the bleakest day of my beekeeping career when my entire apiary of beehives were stolen. The whole site cleared – three hives on stands with honey supers and of course the bees that were housed within.
The apiary was checked on Saturday and all was well. The hives were on a field headland hidden from view behind a stack of silage bales so when you walked into the field you could not see them. My Christmas present in 2013 had been an Arnia Hive Monitoring System so each hive had an internal monitor. These monitors send a message to a “Gateway Monitor” which was screwed to a tree behind the hives. Not particularly visible amongst the undergrowth, something you would have to look for to see. This system is part of an ongoing university research project and allows the owner to login to a website to see how their bees are doing. It also sends out theft alert messages by email if any of the hives are moved.
On Sunday morning I received three emails warning me of a theft alert from each of the hives. The emails had been sent at 0638 hrs which was when the hives were being stolen. I saw the messages a little after 9am. We jumped into the car and drove straight over. The sight of that empty field still haunts me. Interestingly the thieves took not only the hives, stands and supers but also the gateway monitor which suggests that the site had been very well inspected before the theft. The technical people at Arnia say the gateway was disabled 6 minutes after the theft. The thieves knew exactly what they were doing which sadly suggests that they too are beekeepers. I suspect by now the hives have been split into smaller nucleus hives and sold on.
If you are thinking of investing in some honeybees or equipment please make sure you buy them from a reputable source. Your local beekeeper association can always offer advice. I know I am shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted but in future I will be branding all my hives with my initials. It won’t stop the thieves but the branding may make them think twice about using or selling stolen beehives.
One amazing thing that has come out of this incident is the incredible kindness and support I have received from so many people in the community for which I am extremely grateful.