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Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Honey theft leaves 'nasty taste'
Honeybee
Bees must work harder from now on
A spate of beehive thefts has been reported in Devon, as a national honey shortage forces up prices.

Three owners in the county in the last month have reported nine stolen hives.

Beekeepers believe swarms are being placed in remote fields, where they cannot be seen.


It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth because beekeepers see themselves as decent, honest people

Bob Ogden, Devon Beekeepers

The honey shortage follows a ban on Chinese imports, imposed two months ago, after fears they may contain toxins. Devon is one of Britain's biggest honey producing areas.

The shortage has sharply increased prices on supermarket shelves, with one pound (0.45kg) of English honey selling for 3.60.

Richard and Jan Copping from East Anstey in north Devon recently lost three hives from their back garden.

Tightened security

A neighbour saw the thieves donned in full beekeeping suits and Mr Copping believes the thefts may have been carried out by other bee enthusiasts.

The chairman of the Devon Beekeeping Association, Bob Ogden, says they are taking the crimes very seriously and many beekeepers are tightening security.

He said: "It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth because beekeepers see themselves as decent, honest people who enjoy helping each other.

"We have advised members to place identifying marks in hives and we are maintaining a database of stolen ones in case they come to light."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"The biggest names in honey have been taken off the shelves"
See also:

13 Mar 02 | UK
19 Feb 02 | Health
16 May 00 | UK
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