IT’S NOT FUNNY… And yet it is.
According to a report in last week’s Herald and Post, half a million bees were stolen from a West Lothian farm near Broxburn. I’m not making this up.
The bees were taken in 11 hives, which had been destined to join the 250 hives on the Queen’s Balmoral estate. The report tells us that the police suspect the bee-thieves had specialist knowledge of bees.
The owner of the bees, Mr McGregor told the Herald and Post that “… everybody gets nervous when there’s a bee thief about.”
He also said that: “If you know what you are doing, it is quite easy to come at night when the bees are quiet, strap up a hive and load it in a van and you are away.”
There’s a lot to take in here, isn’t there? For starters, it comes as a shock there are people out there who actually make a living from stealing bees – I’d love to know what they put under “occupation” on their passports.
Then there’s that bit about the police suspecting the bee-thieves would have specialist knowledge of bees. Do you think, Sherlock?
Even I can work out that it’s highly unlikely the crime was perpetrated by a couple of jakies making their way home from the pub, and that happening across nearly a dozen hives – containing half a million bees – they considered it too good an opportunity to miss.
“Them’s is bound tae be worth a few boab, Tam. “There’s nae alarm… We kin just help oorselves tae them and flog them doon the local pub.”
“Aye, Rab man. There’s hunners o’ them. Even if we kin only sell them at a fifty-pence a bee we’ll make a killing!”
Hmmm. A quarter of a million bee stings apiece is bound to draw the attention of somebody, you would think, when they lay puffed and bloated to the size of walruses in a St John’s Hospital ward.
And consider this little-known fact: honeybees turn vicious when they perceive the hive to be under threat. The whole hive is alerted by the release of attack pheromones.
“Attack pheromones” doesn’t sound like the sort of thing you want to be anywhere near.
All of which strengthens the thinking behind the line about everybody getting nervous when there’s a bee thief about. Too right! But I would imagine that anybody attempting to humph boxes containing hundreds of thousands of bees would make anybody in the vicinity nervous, let alone the mysterious bee thief.
A stumble; a dropped hive and all Hell would break loose. Have you ever tried outrunning just a solitary bee, let alone a black-cloud swarm of them?
So, I think that the statement about it being “quite easy” to strap up a hive, load it in a van and make your escape is a bit of a stretch. Quite easy? I’ve seen potentially catastrophic vehicle pile-ups caused by a single bee trapped in a car making a nuisance of itself. Sharing the driving duty with half a million of the little blighters within the confines of a transit van is not my idea of “easy”.
Surely somebody would spot a van weaving dangerously from lane to lane as the thieves made their getaway? If such activity wasn’t seen or reported then I would suggest that the thieves’ van is half hidden nose-down in a ditch somewhere. You’ll recognise it – there will be a deafening buzz coming from the back. And not a few screams too, I would wager.
As I said at the beginning: it’s not funny. And yet….