Beekeper’s live­stock is be­ing tar­geted by thieves

South Waikato News - - Farming -

Bee­keep­ers are won­der­ing what more they can do to pro­tect their hives as the pros­e­cu­tion rate for theft re­mains low.

In the past year, 375 bee­hives have been re­ported stolen be­tween Palmer­ston North and Whanganui, a dis­tance of about 75 kilo­me­tres.

In North­land, about $500,000 worth of hives were stolen ear­lier this year.

A 50-year-old sales­man from ru­ral Palmer­ston North has been charged with steal­ing eight bee­hives in Manawatu re­cently.

‘‘Within a week, three of them were dead. So we’re out of pocket about $7000, $8000 each at the mo­ment.

‘‘We’ve only re­ceived back one good hive.’’

Sink­in­son said gain­ing a pros­e­cu­tion would be huge, as the Min­istry for Pri­mary In­dus­tries (MPI) would not let pros­e­cuted bee­keep­ers sell to pack­ers, some­thing he thought would be a ma­jor de­ter­rent for thieves.

But get­ting the po­lice to in­ves­ti­gate his theft was dif­fi­cult, Sink­in­son said.

‘‘The first cop I talked to said ‘they’re hardly worth any­thing, they’re a box of bees’.

‘‘They just don’t see the value in it, they would rather be chas­ing stolen cars.’’

Los­ing eight hives meant a $14,000 in­come loss, which ex­cluded the cost of the phys­i­cal hives them­selves, Sink­in­son said.

‘‘It’s peo­ple’s in­come, it’s our liveli­hood, and peo­ple think they can just steal them and get away with it.

‘‘I work hard and they think they can take them and make money from them.’’

Sink­in­son felt the lack of pros­e­cu­tions meant peo­ple thought they could get away with it, even though most hives were marked and could be traced back to their own­ers.

Po­lice co-or­di­na­tor of com­mu­nity polic­ing Se­nior Sergeant Alas­dair Macmil­lan said po­lice were con­cerned about bee­hive theft be­com­ing more com­mon in the Cen­tral Polic­ing Dis­trict as it was cost­ing bee­keep­ers mil­lions of dol­lars each year.

‘‘It's peo­ple's in­come, it's our liveli­hood, and peo­ple think they can just steal them and get away with it.’’ Gary Sink­in­son

IAN POR­RITT

Bee­hive thefts are mak­ing life tough for bee­keep­ers who say po­lice have lit­tle to no in­ter­est in the mat­ter.

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