Thieves have made off with 22 beehives in what the owner describes as the latest organised raid on his property in the Bay of Plenty.
Beekeeper and Apiflora NZ director Steve Weenink said the beehives were taken from Jensen Rd, Omanawa on March 26.
The thief would have had to have driven down Mr Weenink's right-of-way, past a number of houses, cut through a chain and lock with bolt cutters before selecting the hives he wanted and loaded them on to a ute, he said.
Earlier this year, Mr Weenink had 10 hives stolen from the bottom of Oropi Rd and another 10 of his hives were stolen in June last year.
In last month's heist the thief picked out the 22 single storey hives which had just been cleaned out in preparation for the next season and left the others, Mr Weenink said.
"They knew what they were doing. There's actually been a little bit of it going on from time to time," he said.
"This has and will happen again. There's probably more of it going on than there has been because of the increase in honey prices."
The 32 hives stolen this year alone were worth about $7000, he said. Each of the hives were full of bees and would have produced about 40kg of honey a year.
Mr Weenink said he was convinced the same person was responsible for all the thefts and was probably selling them out of the area.
"We're sort of hoping that someone's seen something or that someone's bought some. They could quite easily have been sold.
"I'd like the person caught."Mr Weenink said
Hives being stolen has become increasingly common in the last few years as the value of bees has gone up due to the advent of varroa mites which have killed a large number.
A Te Puke beekeeper who stole nearly $14,000 of company assets, including 400kg of bees, was sentenced to 140 hours' community work last year. In August 2009, 20 beehives were stolen from a Te Puke orchard.
Tauranga South police could not be reached for comment.