A BOLTON beekeeper has issued a warning after some vandals knocked the roof off his hives.

Horwich Honey founder Derek Cartwright visited one of his apiaries on Monday morning and was annoyed to find that two of his hives had been disturbed.

Mr Cartwright believes it to have happened in the past few weeks and thinks it is the work of youths rather than any rival beekeepers.

The 57-year-old said: "It's definitely been done since Easter because I was there that weekend and everything was fine.

"It's a very secluded site and I don't want to say exactly where it is because sometimes bees can be stolen by other beekeepers. But when I looked, it wasn't that.

"Tops were off two hives. One of the hives was empty anyway but the other one had the strap which holds everything together taken off and the top taken off as well.

"In front of the compound there was a steel pole and I think that's what they've used.

"They've probably tried to knock it over with this pole, they couldn't do that and then they've gone in, undone the strap and taken the top off.

"As soon as the strap comes off the bees will wonder what's going on and somebody's probably got stung.

"It's not only annoying because it's my property, but it can harm the bees. If there's heavy rainfall they can die."

While it does not appear that anybody got seriously hurt during the incident, Mr Cartwright explained just how dangerous honey bees can be.

He added: "These kids think they can push the roof off and then outrun the bees, but these bees can fly around 25 to 30mph and believe me, they can catch you.

"These bees defend themselves in big numbers and there's probably around 50,000 bees in each of these hives.

"It's dangerous this. They may think it's fun being chased by bees but it's almost as dangerous as running across the motorway. 20 to 30 stings can disable somebody and another 20 could kill somebody.

"I don't really want youngsters to get injured but it is an absolutely stupid thing to do."

It isn't the first time that Mr Cartwright has had his hives tampered with, vandals previously damaged another hive at one of his three other apiaries around Horwich.

He said: "On one of my other sites it happened two summers ago, where somebody had knocked one of the roofs off with a big piece of wood.

"There was signs that they'd run away that time, through the undergrowth, so they'd probably been stung.

"If any parents have kids coming home in Horwich, saying they've been stung, it may well be this."