The theft of 30 beehives from a remote spot inland from Waverley continues a run of cruel luck that has dogged beekeeper Jessica Rees in her first year as a sole operator.
The theft, together with the 65 hives lost when floodwaters swept through the Waitotara Valley in June and another 30 which were accidentally poisoned, brings her losses to something like $70,000 this year.
Ms Rees has been working in the honey business for five years, the past 12 months on her own account as Native NZ Honey Ltd.
But, some time over the weekend, thieves hacksawed through a steel pipe gate, drove on to the secluded paddock on the no-exit Omahina Rd south of Waverley and drove off with 30 hives and the bees in them.
She has reported the theft to police.
Ms Rees has been running 250 hives, but 2015 has been her year from hell.
"And it was my birthday on Saturday," she told the Chronicle yesterday.
And most of her losses are not covered by insurance.
"Insurance companies will cover us for natural disasters but nothing else."
The honey coming from the Omahina Rd site was being produced from native rewarewa. The hives had been in that spot for four years and she had never had any trouble until now.
Ms Rees and her partner turned up at the site at 7am yesterday but, when they went to unlock the padlock on the gate, they found someone had cut through the steel pipe gate to remove the chain and lock.
Whoever stole the hives and their precious cargo used a tandem-wheeled vehicle of some sort because tyre marks were clearly evident in the long grass leading to the clearing about 100m off Omahina Rd which is surrounded by native trees.
Some of the hives had been sitting on wooden pallets and they too have gone. Ms Rees said they left a couple of hives which she called "baby colonies", taking only the working hives.
"They obviously knew what they were doing. They've used sponges to block the bottom of the hives to keep the bees inside, so they could take the bees and the hives.
"Each of those is worth $800, so that means $24,000. And that's not accounting for the honey production I was trying to generate off them."
Ms Rees said there was a similar theft in the Waitotara Valley last year but nothing since then.
Her hives are painted a distinctive bright blue colour and she said they won't be hard to spot. But she's worried that the thieves have probably destroyed those boxes by now.
"I've got the other hives around the (Waverley) district, but they're not secluded like these ones were. Most of them are on farm properties and more visible."
Omahina Rd is a no-exit road off Upper Okutuku Rd, which runs off SH3 south of Waverley. But Ms Rees said whoever took her property could have gone north through Waverley or south toward Whanganui.
She was hoping someone would have seen a truck or ute and trailer on the road over the weekend and would report those movements to police.