Beekeepers stung by swarm of hive thefts


Beekeepers are seeking an urgent meeting with police as an increasing number of sticky-fingered thieves make off with beehives across the country.

The most recent incident was in Northland, where around $500,000-worth of hives were stolen from Topuni Forest more than a week ago. 

Some call the honey liquid gold - and for very good reason.

"If you're getting high-grade manuka honey, the beekeepers can expect to get about $60 a kilogram," Apiculture New Zealand's Daniel Paul said.

With each manuka hive holding around 30 kilograms of honey, it's not surprising thieves are seeing dollar signs.

Apiculture New Zealand says theft has significantly ramped up in recent years, with hotspots mainly in the North Island - including the far north and the Bay of Plenty.

"They have to have some knowledge of beekeeping," Mr Paul said.

"They have to have specialist equipment - they have to know what they're doing in order to transport high numbers of hives."

Tauranga based Mossop's Honey has been operating for over 70 years - and managing director Neil Mossop says the business has been stung twice by thieves in the past six months.

"They stole over 90 boxes which is worth, to our business, about $35,000 - which is quite a big impact to our company," he said.

Two men were arrested earlier this month for stealing 65 beehives north of Whanganui.

"I believe this is organised crime - they're stealing our honey boxes which are branded with our code, they're extracting it and selling the honey on the local market," Mr Mossop said.

Beekeepers say incidents like this usually spark a regional response from police - but now they're calling for a national strategy.

"The scale of the problem is now such that we think there needs to be a national remedy to it," Mr Paul said.

"So we want to meet with the police to discuss how we can do this."

Police are yet to respond to calls for a meeting with Apiculture New Zealand, but are reminding the public to report any suspicious behaviour around beehives.