Bees taken in Cley and across Norfolk “stolen to order” according to local bee expert

07:30 21 June 2014

John Gubb from Cley who has had his 80,000 bees stolen.

John Gubb from Cley who has had his 80,000 bees stolen. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2014

A north Norfolk bee expert said he thought tens of thousands of bees taken from Cley, King’s Lynn and Woodbastwick had been “stolen to order” and driven out of the county through King’s Lynn.

Barry Walker-Moore said the Cley bees, which were among three recent thefts, were unlikely to have been taken by amateurs, as bees could be dangerous if handled the wrong way.

Mr Walker-Moore, who keeps bees near Cromer and is a member of the West Norfolk and King’s Lynn Beekeepers’ Association, said the bees seemed to have been taken from the same area.

He said: “These people knew what they were doing and where they were going. You wouldn’t take bees unless you had somewhere to take them.”

The Cley bees were stolen from 69-year-old John Gubb, a safety consultant in the timber industry, who had been nurturing the colony for four years.

Mr Gubb, who lives with his wife, Dianne, and springer spaniel Gracie, said it would have taken at least two people to lift his 25kg hive containing up to 80,000 bees.

And since the EDP reported on the theft, a woman has come forward to offer Mr Gubb a swarm of bees free of charge, but he could not accept as he was hoping to move house soon.

Mr Gubb said he was convinced the bees were not stolen by opportunists. He said: “Someone knew where they were and said ‘get me some bees’.”

Peter Davies, chairman of the West Norfolk and Kings Lynn Beekeepers’ Association, said the thefts were part of a worrying trend, with more reported in the last 12 to 15 months.

He said: “There must be a market and someone must be buying them.

“We encourage people to buy bees locally from people they know so there is a bit of trust.

“And it is always best to buy local because bees in your area are used to the weather and the plants that grow.”

With more than 200 members in the West Norfolk and Kings Lynn Beekeepers’ Association and more than 280,000 in the UK, beekeeping is a popular hobby. Mr Davies said he did not recommend buying bees online, as beekeeping required training from a trusted source.

Have you been the victim of an unusual theft? Email


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