As part of the preparation for our 20 years celebrations, our Chinese Bronzes and Women’s Library collections will be closed from Monday 26 February, reopening with the rest of our new season on Thursday 21 March.

Bee Hive Theft – round two!

In early November, an isolated area of the grounds at Compton Verney received a visit from thieves in the night intent on removing, unbelievably, our two bee hives. A link at the bottom of the page describes that nocturnal visit, but this post is to bring news of a second visit where thieves aimed to remove the one remaining bee hive.


Compton Verney bees – second theft attempt (c) Compton Verney/Rod Oates

This second attempt succeeded only in removing the top section, the hive yet again being dropped scattering bees all around. Many of the bees would at this time be clustered inside their hive sheltering from the chilly temperatures, but whilst they don’t necessarily hibernate, they don’t tend to venture out in the cool December weather either – the sudden exposure could well have killed the entire colony had we not been quick to spot the problem.


Volunteer Beekeeper Rod Oates trying to save the bees from the cold (c) Compton Verney

After taking stock, our volunteer keeper Rod rebuilt what remained of the hive, and the decision was made to relocate the hives to a more prominent and secure location. What became apparent through reporting of the crime was that this may not be an isolated case of ‘bee rustling‘. We thought it best this time around to compile a press release in an attempt to both appeal for help in re-establishing new hives in the Spring, and also to raise awareness to the threat of bee rustling.


Rod Oates, the Compton Verney bee keeper talks to Stacey Foster from ITV News (c) Compton Verney/Gary Webb

The response has been very welcome and reassuring, with our news being picked up by local journalists who have been keen to run the item. This morning I kicked off at first light with a brief telephone interview with Shane O’Connor on the BBC Coventry & Warwickshire breakfast show. Following this we entertained both a BBC Midlands today reporter Kevin Reide, and Stacey Foster from ITV; both making reports for news programmes due to air tonight. (ITV Central news at 6.00 and BBC Midlands Today at 6.30).


Rod exhibits the remainder of the bee colony that are clustered safely inside the re-assembled hive. (Viewed through a temporary glass cover to protect them from the cold!) (c) Compton Verney/Gary Webb


We hope in the least that our coverage raises the profile of the threat of bee rustling locally in time for other keepers to review the security of their hives – more visibly marking hive sections as a deterrent is recommended. In addition to this, we certainly aren’t deterred from bee keeping, and shall be looking in the new year to re-establish some new hives in their new location. Should anyone reading be in a position to offer donations of either bees or indeed hives, we would be very grateful. If you are able to help please call Aly Grimes on 01926 645 547

Furthermore, if you have experienced bee rustling, or can offer advice on reducing the potential for this crime, then please do comment below and we’ll spread the word!

I’d also like to give an extra note of thanks and appreciation to Rod Oates for rising to the most recent challenge, especially at a time when bee keepers (as gardeners) are thought to be warm and snug indoors, and bees too should be safely tucked away after a hard years work!

Gary Webb.

Previous bee hive theft post.