Sadness over theft of beehive from Norwich community garden

Tish Kerkham at the spot where the beehive was stolen in Marlpit Community Garden, Norwich.

Tish Kerkham at the spot where the beehive was stolen in Marlpit Community Garden, Norwich.

A beekeeper at a Norwich community garden has spoken of her sadness that thieves stole a hive just before Christmas that would have been used to teach adults and children about the care and preservation of bees.

Tish Kerkham, a volunteer and beekeeper at Marlpit Community Garden, arrived at the Marlpit Lane site on December 21 to discover the hive, which had been bought during the summer for hundreds of pounds, had been taken and has appealed for its safe return.

However, she believed the raid had been carried out by at least two people who knew how to handle hives as there was no evidence of any damage or dead bees on the ground and therefore she thought the colony had been stolen to order.

The hive may have been carried out through a gap in the fence, though she said residents living near to the garden may not have had any reason to be suspicious if they had seen people walking through the garden with the hive.

She added: 'I think it is very sad. I think they have probably got a site arranged, but they did not destroy the beehive as there were no dead bees around so I think someone has done it to order for a beekeeper and the thing is everyone knows that bees are struggling.

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'There is a big thing at the moment about the importance of bees for pollination.'

Mrs Kerkham said the hive had been installed to increase the pollination of fruit and vegetables at the garden and to enable local people to learn about the lives of the bees.

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A second hive was set to be introduced next year to encourage the garden's members to help with the harvesting of honey and to run workshops about crafts using the products, such as making candles and cosmetics from bees wax, producing mead and cooking with honey.

The aim of the garden, set up by Grow Our Own sustainable living initiative, is to help local people to learn how to grow fruit and vegetables, how to preserve and store them and exchange recipes to cook what they grow.

The growers share land, tools, seeds, plants, skills and support and experienced growers are encouraged to share their skills.

The land, which was opened to the public in June, is divided into different areas with half the site dedicated to conserving wildlife and half to vegetable plots.

A Norfolk police spokesman confirmed the incident took place between 2pm on December 13 and 2pm on December 22.

Anyone with information should call Norfolk police on 101.

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