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Issue No. 411 March 2017

Building a hive of intelligence

Beehive and honey thefts are devastating to the owners and cost the whole industry, with thefts on the increase and a total cost estimated to be in the millions.

A security image of hive thieves in action.

In the past six months, Police received around 400 theft reports involving either beehives or honey.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan, National Coordinator for Community Policing, says Police has been working with other agencies to build intelligence on the issue.

“Along with Apiculture New Zealand and the Ministry of Primary Industries, we’re working to approach the issue in a more coordinated and centralised way,” he says.

“We want a database to allow us to track each and every theft, and access information other agencies may hold about the thousands of hives across the country.”

New Zealand has around 600,000 registered beehives, almost twice the number registered six years ago.

“The high value of honey, particularly manuka honey, is likely to be contributing, and because of the scale we believe it’s an organised operation in most parts of the country.”

The public are encouraged to report any instance of beehive theft and suspicious behaviour.

“Particularly in rural areas, we need to encourage the community to share information, particularly the unfamiliar movement of equipment or any unmarked vehicles carrying hives,” says Alasdair.

“And when anyone calls in, we need all the relevant information – the type of vehicle, the registration number, location, direction of travel, and any description of the hives.”

Preventative action is also encouraged, such as keeping hives in a locked fenced-off area or at least out of sight; and keeping serial numbers or other identification details.

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