Thousands of bees stolen from Barleston woodland
About 130,000 bees were stolen from a beekeeper who had only just finished removing them from a house.
Peter Clarke was stung an estimated 500 times while removing the insects from a bricked-up fireplace in Groby, Leicestershire, over several days.
He finished on Monday and took them to woodland on a private farm. Mr Clarke said he "wept" when the next day he found they had been taken.
Leicestershire Police confirmed it is investigating the suspected theft.
'I thought it was a joke'
Mr Clarke, from Newbold Verdon, Leicestershire, was called to remove the bees after a woman found "thousands upon thousands" of dead ones inside her home.
The beekeeper said he does not charge to remove them but that selling the 130,000-strong hive could have earned him about £2,000.
Mr Clarke suspects the insects were taken from the site in Barleston using an adapted vacuum, similar to the one he used to clear the chimney.
This is because any dead bees that didn't survive being transported from the chimney would have been at the bottom of the container, but they were also gone.
"I thought it was a joke first of all," he said. "When I realised what had happened - I just wept."
The hive was the largest Mr Clarke had removed from one place and he is now concerned for their welfare.
Leicestershire Police said their investigation is continuing and no arrests have been made.