A ROGUE bee-keeper could be behind two recent honey-farm heists in which hundreds of thousands of the insects have been stolen
An apiarists' leader issued the warning after three queen bees, 45,000 worker bees, and three honeycomb frames were stolen in the latest raid at a wood in Craichie, Angus.
The raid, between midnight on Saturday, 29 March, and midnight on Sunday, 20 April, was revealed last week.
At almost the same time, more than a quarter of a million workers, six queens and 18 honeycomb frames were taken in raid on Balgrove honey farm in Coupar Angus, Perthshire.
The president of the East of Scotland Beekeeping Association, Gavin Ramsay, warned the raids could be the work of a "bee-keeping loner" out to restock his depleted colonies.
He said enthusiasts should be on their guard against "further furtive activity".
Mr Ramsay, 57, said: "It's something that does happen from time to time. Most bee-keepers are pretty cautious about how public their hives are.
"Clearly there are a very small number of people in the bee-keeping community who are prepared to resort to theft.
"It would take just a couple of minutes to move frames out of one box and into another."
Mr Ramsay, who said the two crimes were likely to be connected, added it was usual to move bees either at night or early in the morning.
He said: "I heard from one commercial beekeeper in Tayside that there may have been thefts to order.
"These last two thefts seem very similar - I think it could well be the same person.
"You'd need bee-keeping equipment and knowledge to go in and do that.
"People would be well advised to look out for folk selling bees outside the usual channels, or a rogue beekeeper trying to recover from having lost their colony.
"You can't imagine anyone you know doing this, but there are loners out there who don't tend to mix with the beekeeping community - it's hard to know."