The owners of six beehives stolen in Doncaster last week say the brazen thieves knew exactly what they were doing.
The hives and bees, worth an estimated £2,000, were taken on Wednesday night at Hooton Pagnell.
Their owners, Amanda Clayton and Chris Brundell, claim the thieves knew what they were after.
They say just moving the hives without making the bees angry - and being stung - would have been an painstaking process.
The thieves would have had to be prepared, Ms Clayton, aged 53, said.
First, they would have had to calm the bees down, using smoke, before blocking the entrances to the hives to ensure they couldn’t escape during the move.
“If they get angry, they’re going to come out, and you’re going to get stung all over the place,” Ms Clayton said.
Then, the hives would have had to be strapped up to ensure they stayed in one piece. “It was someone who knows what they were doing,” she added.
The couple were made aware of the theft when the estate’s gamekeeper rang the next morning and said they had moved the hives and left some equipment behind.
“I said ‘no we haven’t’,” Ms Clayton said.
The remote location of the bees made Ms Clayton surprised that anyone would know they were there to start with.
“On a big, country shooting estate, which is private property, you don’t expect people to know they’re there,” she said.
The couple had owned the hives for about 12 months, after being turned on to the idea of beekeeping by a visit to the Great Yorkshire Show at Harrogate.
They had almost doubled the amount of bees in that time.
Each hive, she said, was worth about £250.
The fact that the bees were living creatures, Ms Clayton said, made the theft worse. “Bees are alive. You wonder what they’ve done with them,” she said.
Witnesses call police on 101.