A beekeeper was stunned after a thief stole a hive containing 2000 insects.
Amanda Moffet, who owns several hives at Newhailes House and Gardens in Musselburgh, East Lothian, was horrified to find her ‘nuc box’ was missing on Saturday morning.
The portable hive contained more than 2000 bees and a newly hatched queen – and are feared not to survive unless they can be rescued by a beekeeper.
Around the same time Ms Moffet received a phone call from a dog walker warning her one of the hives was open and arrived to find many bees inside it had died due to heavy rainfall on Friday night.
She is now pleading for the stolen insects to be returned so they could be saved.
Ms Moffet said: “Not only was the nuc box of bees stolen, these bees were just hatching a new queen so it was an incredibly vulnerable time for them.
“The queen would have probably just hatched, so there is not much chance they will survive.
“A lot of the bees in this hive died and from their behaviour today it looks like their queen was killed.
‘The bees would have tried to defend their hive and I imagine this person was badly stung.’Amanda Moffet
“The bees would have tried to defend their hive and I imagine this person was badly stung.”
Ms Moffet warned anyone who finds the hive not open it if the bees are sealed in as they will be “distressed and angry.”
She added: “Without help from a beekeeper this whole colony that have been stolen will die.
“If they are found in the next few days and returned I could try and save them.
“Bees can fly at 30 miles an hour and chase you, they also have facial recognition for three days so if this person shows their face again in the apiary it’s likely it will be a painful outcome.”