A LITTLE girl who has devoted the past six months to caring for her beloved bees through the winter has had her hive stolen.

Lee Liddle, from Selsey, said his daughter Poppy is “mad about bees” - so much so that last year she spent her birthday money on seeds and compost to grow flowers and held a garden sale to raise money to start keeping bees.

Thanks to generous donations and hard work, by last autumn the eight-year-old had all she needed to start keeping bees, and managed to develop a thriving colony over the winter.

But when Lee went to check on the bee colony on Saturday, he found the hive and all the bees had been stolen from the field on a friend’s farm in Sidlesham - with just a few lost bees left behind.

The Argus:

Lee said: "We worked really hard to build up the hive from a small nucleus of bees to a full colony, which took the best part of six months.

“One of the hardest challenges is to get your bees through the winter and we managed to do that with great success.

“To get them through the winter and then to have this setback was so disappointing.”

Lee said Poppy’s interest in bees was sparked by a school project two years ago, and since then she has developed a passion for bees and pollination.

Rather than toys, she requested a beekeeping experience for her birthday - and despite getting stung, she was hooked.

Poppy even has her own Facebook page, Poppy’s Garden, where she shares updates about her beekeeping.

The family last checked on the bees on Thursday and believe they must have been stolen on Friday.

Poppy's stepmum Claire Byrne set up a GoFundMe page on Saturday to raise money for a new bee colony - and the page has raised more than £1,300 already - well over its target of £500.

The Argus:

Lee said: "Some of the money will go towards buying a new hive and we also want to increase security, as we don't want to go through this again.

"We've already been offered replacement hives by other beekeepers which is really lovely.

"In the future we would also love to run beekeeping experiences for kids during the summer, and Poppy wants to make seed bombs to give to other children for their gardens to help the bees.

"When something like this happens and a lot of people help you out, you really want to give something back."

While Poppy added: “Losing the hive was really sad.

"But the donations just show a lot of people in this world are really nice too.”

To donate, visit Poppy's Garden Bee Hive Appeal GoFundMe page, and visit Poppy's Garden Facebook page here