Bad branding


You can always rely on the British press to raise a smile. Here’s a headline from the Daily Express a few years ago:

“Beekeepers urged to microchip bees after rise in hive theft”

The mind boggles! Trying to microchip one bee is hard enough, so microchipping the other 50,000 running around the average hive just isn’t going to happen!

Hive theft is a theme that the media return to on a regular basis. In North Wales BBC News was relieved to take a break from the usual sheep rustling stories to report the theft of  40,000 bees instead – Yep, about 1 hive. Not much happens in North Wales.

The Daily Mail is not nearly so parochial,  but thanks to dismal numeracy they missed an opportunity to really hype a non-story: ‘Hundreds of thousands of bees have been taken from apiaries across England and Wales since 2011‘ they gush, when the figure was more likely in excess of 5 million.

The reason for this recent flurry of headlines was a ‘Freedom of Information’ request by the Press Association who then cobbled together a story and syndicated it to the UK media as a stocking filler for the 2017 Christmas period. Apparently 135 hives were stolen between January 2011 and late 2017 – about 20 per year on average, or 0.008% of the UK stock of bee hives (about 250,000).

It’s diddly-squat – but the great British Bee Rustle of the two thousand and teenies will nevertheless be earnestly discussed by the neurotic … and cynically promoted by purveyors of trail cameras, microchips and branding irons.

For our bees sake, I hope the Daily Express doesn’t run a headline!