BEEKEEPERS in Wrexham are on their guard after a criminal operation saw a million bees stolen in nearby Shropshire.
An epidemic of bee-rustling in neighbouring counties of England recently culminated in a major theft from a farm near Telford amid rumours of a lucrative black market in stolen hives.
But beekeeping is on the increase despite crime, disease and cold weather, according to David Hards, chairman of the South Clwyd Beekeepers Association, which will be promoting the cause of the honeybee at The Gardening Show, Llangollen, next month and hoping to recruit members.
He said: “More people are getting interested in keeping bees, not only for producing their own honey but also to improve the environment; so perhaps all the doom and gloom about the future of bees is having a good effect.
“We will be at the show, hoping to recruit new people to the cause and offering courses in beekeeping as well as advice on how to encourage bees into your garden.
“Most people enjoy the honey bees buzzing among their flowers.”
Show director Stephen Green is delighted to have the beekeepers at the show, which takes place on June 6 and 7 at the Royal International Pavilion.
He said: “There is obviously a very real link between gardens and bees – we rely on bees and other insects to pollinate our flowers and to ensure a good harvest of vegetables and fruit.
“Anything that’s bad for bees is also bad for gardeners and so we’re really pleased the South Clwyd Beekeepers will be at the show and we hope they enlist plenty of new recruits – certainly bees are fascinating creatures.”
Mr Hards said: “Thieves are opportunists but to pinch a hive and transport it you would have to know what you were doing so there must be some bad apples in the world of beekeeping.”
He checks his own hives regularly but believes bad weather and disease remain much bigger threats to small-scale bee- keepers than organised rustling.
He said: “A major problem is the varroa mite and that is true for beekeepers, large and small.”
For more details on David and his wife, Margaret, visit www.scbeekeepers.co.uk.