A beekeeper has been left devastated after hives he rebuilt following the December floods were vandalised.

Alan James, 70, of Carlisle Walk, Workington, keeps four hives on private land near Seaton.

Eight wooden hives were washed away during Storm Desmond, so Alan set up four polystyrene hives on higher ground with a fence and locked gate to protect them.

But when he went to the site to do some gardening last week he discovered the hives had been smashed with branches, bricks and stones.

Alan, a retired plant manager, said: "Fortunately I think we've saved the bees, but understandably they're a bit angry.

"I'm just pleased it didn't rain because the bees would have been washed out and killed.

"I've rung a beekeeping supplier and asked if they've got materials to repair them with so they're sending me some stuff.

"The poly hives are moulded but they've split in half and they're quite substantial things."

Alan said the worst case scenario could mean his bees missing a whole season of activity if the queen has been killed in the disruption.

He said: "It'll take them a month to six weeks to raise a new queen and by then it's August and there are no flowers left.

"Bees are so important to the environment, they've got to pollinate before we get any fruit."

"It's sad. I would say [the vandals] don't realise the impact."

Alan added: "The financial part I can live with, but it's a very short season for beekeeping in Cumbria.

"It's nice to give your friends a jar of honey and that won't happen this year now probably."

Alan has been passionate about bees since he became a member of the beekeeping club at Workington Grammar School at the age of 12, and has kept the insects regularly since 1996.

He said: "It probably sounds silly to people but I find it very spiritual.

"To go up on a nice day or evening and do your beekeeping is calming.

"It definitely concentrates your mind when you've got your head in a hive with 60,000 bees.

"The honey is a by-product and it helps me buy more equipment."

The incident has been reported to Cumbria Police.