A country estate is appealing for information after thieves stole 400,000 bees, leaving the owners devastated.

The five hives were taken from Tresillian House in St Newlyn East, near Newquay, Cornwall.

Its beekeeper Guy Barnes said he was "stressed and emotional" by the theft.

Mr Barnes told BBC Radio Cornwall: "They are such an important part of our local eco-system. For beekeepers it's a labour of love and it's ten years' work.

"I got the devastating call on Sunday morning, and photos of this pair of tracks going into the field and just empty sites where all these hives were.

"I can't tell you what it meant to see those photos. It's all gone."

Posting on Facebook Katie Barnes said: "Our bees have been stolen!!! Just yesterday we were inspecting them, getting excited about the progress and upcoming summer harvest.

"Over ten years of work with queen bees, swarms and worker bees have been taken away from us over night. It’s not just approx. 80.000 bees per hive, it’s dedication, care and commitment that goes into beekeeping. It’s a responsibility. And someone just came with a pickup or a van to @tresillianhouseandgardens and just took the five hives away. All that’s left is an empty stand. It’s devastating, to say the least.

"We want to raise awareness of this crime and have the hope that someone might notice new hives in a field nearby. If you spot something suspicious, please get in touch with us (Guy or me), Tresillian House (Allan or Jonny) or the police. We’re just waiting for a crime reference number."

"Thank you for sharing this with your community, too. Every share helps."

The estate has contacted police and says the hives are marked.