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A beehive containing some 30,000 to 50,000 honeybees was stolen from an apiary in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, police said Tuesday.

According to the Tamagawa Branch of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police department, a 73-year-old beekeeper in the Todoroki area reported Saturday morning that one of his 10 beehives was missing.

The wooden box stands about 80 cm high and has slits through which the bees enter and exit.

Police suspect someone in the beekeeping business committed the crime.

According to another beekeeper, the industry is suffering from a shortage of honeybees this year, causing the price for a box of about 30,000 bees to rise to ¥50,000 to ¥60,000, more expensive than usual, he said.

The beekeeping industry has been alarmed by a sudden collapse in worldwide honeybee populations since 2006.

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