Beehive thefts spark national response

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Beehive thefts have become such an increasing problem, Apiculture New Zealand and New Zealand Police are now working together to stop them.

By July at least 113 hives had been stolen in raids targeting Tauranga family business Mossop's Honey over the past 10 months, equating to $50,000.

Apiculturists at the time said the problem was getting worse.

Today, Apiculture NZ chief executive Daniel Paul said the issue had escalated tothe point that a co-ordinated, nationwide solution must be found.

"We are discussing ways in which we can, with the assistance of police mount a planned, managed and sustained programme to combat this problem.

"This will involve working together to gather better intelligence about thefts and how stolen hives are processed, and to monitor hive movements more proactively.

"We also want to establish a central database to ensure that information about thefts and the people and organisations behind those thefts is shared more efficiently."

New Zealand Police coordinator of community policing Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said the issue was costing apiarists millions of dollars each year.

"We do not believe this is just a few individuals but it is potentially criminal activity occurring on a much wider scale.

"Hopefully this co-ordinated response will prevent more beekeepers from becoming victims, and will improve the intel we have on these offenders."

Mr Macmillan said the public could help with preventing thefts.

"It's common for these thieves to shift the hives in small utes or trailers in rural areas. Even if people are not directly involved in the beehive industry, they can still help.

"If you see suspicious looking vehicles carrying beehives, report it to police. If you can't call us immediately, then make a note of the registration number and description of the vehicle to report to us as soon as you can."

Apiculture New Zealand is the peak body representing the beekeeping and honey products industry. Its members include some of the biggest beekeeping companies in New Zealand, many of which are major producers and exporters of high value manuka honey.

"All our major commercial members and even many non-commercial, hobbyist beekeepers are concerned about the growing trend of beehive thefts and we will be putting considerable effort into initiatives that will help beekeepers keep their hives safe," Mr Paul said.

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