Police pledge to crack down on organised crime after hundreds of beehives are stolen

Police officers across the country are putting a new plan into action to target a rise in beehive thefts.

Police believe the theft of more than 400 hives since July, last year is due to organised crime. Source: 1 NEWS

It follows more than 400 reports of hives and honey being stolen since July last year, costing beekeepers millions of dollars.

Apiculture New Zealand Chief Executive Karin Kos said they were seeing beehive theft, "on a much wider scale".

Police are changing tack after industry experts approached officers with concerns they weren’t taking the crime seriously.

Senior Sergeant Alasdair Macmillan said police were ignorant about the thefts, "because you think, bees, they're just hanging around the garden".

They now believe the thefts are an organised crime.

"The amount of product that is being stolen is not something you can just throw in the boot of a car and go away," Mr Macmillan said. 

Beekeepers believe it is the rising value of Kiwi honey which is making stealing hives attractive, with export revenue reaching a record $315 million in the past year.

The industry has also grown significantly, with close to 800,000 registered hives across the country.

The new joint approach has seen the establishment of a central database and clearer procedures.

Police are also receiving practical lessons about beekeeping from experts.

Beekeepers are praising police efforts, saying they’re already noticing a difference.

Wairarapa beekeeper Stuart Ferguson, who is $40,000 out of pocket after he had forty hives stolen, said the police response to his incident was, "brilliant".

"They took me very seriously and they came and sent out an investigator who took pictures of the wheel traps, pictures of the scene."

Police are urging the six thousand beekeepers in New Zealand to consider security for their hives.

They plan to roll out a public awareness campaign in the near future.