Thieves have stolen $50,000 worth of beehives and honey from a Tauranga family business over the past 10 months.

The thefts from Mossop's Honey are being linked to the increasing value of Manuka honey.

In total, 113 hives had been stolen in two separate raids since September.

You're feeling violated. They've stolen your bee stock, it's our livelihood.

Managing director Neil Mossop said he would set a $10,000 reward for information leading to the apprehension of those responsible if the business was targeted again.


Mr Mossop thought the raids were being carried out by professionals.

"It's not just the beekeeper going out and getting a few boxes, it's organised because they have to have specialised equipment.

"The honey would have to be extracted in a processing plant, the honey would have to be packaged and sold."

The family had been selling honey for 70 years and thefts had only become a problem in the past year, he said.

"We've kept beehives on some sites for 40 years and you drive up there and your beehives are gone.

"It's a little bit heart-wrenching.

"You're feeling violated. They've stolen your bee stock, it's our livelihood."

Apiculture New Zealand's chief executive officer Daniel Paul said the theft of hives was a national problem.


"It's not new but it is certainly increasing in prevalence," he said.

"We don't know who is stealing the hives but we assume they have some knowledge of bees or some background expertise that enables them to deal with hives."

We've kept beehives on some sites for 40 years and you drive up there and your beehives are gone.

He said most beekeepers were well aware of the security measures they could use to protect their hives. "Most commercial beekeepers would have a variety of security measures in place, including surveillance, and even technology embedded in the hives to track the hives.

"The more we progress with this, the more technology like that will be developed."
He said they wanted to talk to police about implementing a national strategy to deal with the issue.

Chris Mitchell of Seeside Bees, a company which sells, rents and manages urban beehives, said the company had not experienced any thefts, but was aware of thefts increasing.

"It could only be other bee keepers doing it, if the average person stole hives they'd end up with a bit more than they'd bargained for," Mr Mitchell said.

A police media spokesperson said Tauranga police were still investigating the Mossop's Honey thefts.

"From a national perspective, there has been an increasing amount of reported beehive thefts. Police believe thieves are likely to act at night when bees have returned to their hives and there is less opportunity to be seen by nearby farmers and members of the public.

"Police are working on a plan with strategic partners such as the Ministry for Primary Industries and other non-government agencies to establish a collaborative approach to prevention messaging and to theft detection."

Manuka honey exports increased 45 per cent to $281m last year.

Northland bees hit

Beehives and bees worth about $200,000 from a Northland forest has prompted the owners to offer a $20,000 reward for their return or the successful prosecution of the culprits.

The hives were stolen from Topuni Forest about 10 kilometres north of Wellsford during the week leading up to July 16. - The Northern Advocate