Scientists stung by theft of research bees

Tue May 10, 2011 11:45am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters) - Several thousand bees that were part of a multi-million pound neuroscience research project have been stolen from a British university.

Police in the Scottish region of Tayside were appealing for information Tuesday after four bee hives containing several thousand British black bees were stolen from a medical school in the city of Dundee.

"This theft will undoubtedly hamper our research," said Dr Chris Connolly, the lead researcher on the Dundee project, who reported the bees missing Sunday.

In a statement he described the bees as "very unique" and said they should be easy to identify if they are sold on.

The hives are a part of a 2 million pound ($3.3 million) project at the Center for Neurosciences at the Dundee University's medical school which is investigating the potential effect of pesticides on bee learning and health.

Police said there were keen to trace a white van and two men that were seen in the area at around 0900 GMT on May 8.

Connolly said he thought the bees may have been stolen for breeding, or for selling on to specialist bee-keepers.

"Clearly whoever did this knows what they were doing and how to handle bees," he said.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>A bumble bee lands on a plant in Pitlochry in Scotland May 29, 2010. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne</p>