PRICELESS: An example of one of the five hives stolen from Yandaran that Sunshine Coast bee researchers were using for their studies.
PRICELESS: An example of one of the five hives stolen from Yandaran that Sunshine Coast bee researchers were using for their studies. Contributed

'Priceless' research lost in bee hive theft

THEY might not be as cuddly as dogs and cats, but every bee has a personality, Rachele Wilson says.

So when she and two fellow researchers from the University of the Sunshine Coast discovered their hives had been stolen from a quiet forest spot in Yandaran, north of Bundaberg, they were shocked and worried for the tiny native animals - and furious at what it would mean for their studies.

"The bee hives had been ripped from the steel pickets as well as my bee hotels, which are for solitary bees,” Ms Wilson said.

"They were just gone.

"It looked weird because it had been done so quickly - the hives are designed to be easily unscrewed...but they just smashed (the attachments).

"The whole thing would have been rocking, the bees would have been pretty upset.

"I just hope they are in a good spot now where they can eat.

DATA LOST: Rachele Wilson and her colleagues after their devastating discovery.
DATA LOST: Rachele Wilson and her colleagues after their devastating discovery. Contributed

"It didn't really hit me until a couple of hours later when I got really angry and realised what it would mean for the study.”

The hives have been a source of data on the native stingless bees over the last six years.

Ms Wilson is in the second year of her PhD, researching pollen sources for native bees in different landscapes, while her two colleagues are just beginning theirs.

The thefts could have occurred anywhere between September last year and this month, as the researchers try to disturb the hives as infrequently as possible.

Five hives were taken, each with a value of around $500.

"That's the retail value but the research value for me is priceless,” Ms Wilson said.

"At the moment I'm just trying to figure out how to work without it.”

She and Tim Heard, founder of Sugarbag Bees which owns the hives, are urging anyone with information to get in touch with them at either Sugarbag Bees or Beescapes on Facebook.

"I want people to know this happens and be wary of people selling beehives who may seem like they not have been doing so for very long.”


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