It was a honey of a theft, but financially worth it -- assuming the thieves can unload their loot.

Two people stole beehives from the rear of a home in the 100 block of Centennial Avenue in Hanover, according to borough police Lt. Dwayne Smith.

"I can't say that in my career I've ever taken a report, or heard of a police department taking a report, on such a theft," Smith said.

Beekeeper Troy Shearer owns the 11 stolen beehives.

"I want my hives back," he said. "I've had them for about six years now, and I was just starting to get to a point this year that I might have been able to make a little bit of money from them. But this (theft) puts me back about three or four years."

Shearer also owns Sands of Thyme, an Internet business from which he sells herbs, spices and loose teas.

What the neighbor saw: According to Smith, a neighbor of Shearer's spotted two people -- likely men -- carting what appeared to be Shearer's beehives to a white van and loading them into it. That was between 10 and 10:30 p.m. Sunday, he said.

The white van might have been a Chevrolet, Smith said.

"I'm in the process of moving, so I'm not in Hanover all the time anymore," Shearer said. "That's why I didn't discover the thefts until Tuesday."

Julia Kurtz, president of the York County Beekeepers' Association, said an active hive is worth between $400 and $500.

"If (the thieves) can sell these somewhere, they can make a good amount of money," she said. "But bees are not the easiest thing to sell. It's a specialized market."

It's also possible the thieves wanted the hives for themselves, she said.

Similar crime: Seven beehives were stolen from an apiary in Taylorstown, Washington County, in early October, according to Kurtz.

"It's becoming more prevalent in the bee-keeping world," she said.

Shearer said he constructed his hives of wood, most of which he didn't paint. The ones that are painted are tan, he said, and all have plastic covers.

He is not insured for the theft, he said.

Anyone with information on the thief's identity is asked to call police at 637-5575 during normal business hours, or call 911 after hours and on weekends.

-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at levans@yorkdispatch.com.