STAFFORD, England, April 27 (UPI) -- Thieves have begun targeting bee farms throughout Britain to steal entire bee hives for possible sales on the apian black market, experts say.
Bee farmer Richard Lindsey, whose bee farm in the English county of Staffordshire was robbed this month, said thieves took hives containing nearly 800,000 bees and with a value of up to nearly $8,800, The Times of London said Monday.
The Great Little Honey Co. owner operator said those behind the recent theft apparently had some knowledge of handling bees.
"It must have been someone who knew what they were doing -- someone in the trade. You would need equipment to load them on to a truck and they're not easy to lift," he said.
John Howat, Bee Farmers' Association secretary, told The Times those behind the ongoing string of bee thefts in Britain are likely capitalizing on increasing prices in the industry.
"I imagine that the increase in demand for hives from the public following all the press coverage about bees over the last year, together with the very high prices now being demanded due to shortages following losses has prompted this spate of thefts," he said.