More than a dozen insect colonies, weighing nearly a tonne and potentially containing hundreds of thousands of bees, were stolen from land in Braintree.

Police have issued an appeal for information after the theft of the beehives, which took place between 8pm on Thursday and 8am on Friday.

A total of 16 colonies of insects and their hive homes, each weighing around 50kg, were taken from land between Beazley End and Church Street, Bocking.

Colonies of bees range in size but can contain up to 100,000 insects in the largest cases.

Along with a queen, a colony contains thousands of worker bees which are used for the production of honey.

Beekeeping is very popular across the Braintree District with both commercial and small-scale operations.

Braintree Beekeepers’ Association has more than 100 members from across the north and mid Essex area.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “If you saw any suspicious activity in the area during this time, please call 101 and quote reference number 42/69326/18.

“Alternatively, you can contact the Crimestoppers charity 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use the anonymous online form at”