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Kiwis stealing beehives in honey 'gold rush'

Organised crime syndicates are targeting beekeepers, as demand for Kiwi honey soars.

manuka honey
manuka honey

Beehives are being stolen by organised crime syndicates, in an attempt to profit off the lucrative honey industry here in New Zealand.

Police and beekeepers confirmed this week that hives were being snatched across the country, as the demand for Kiwi honey soars.

"It doesn't matter if it's beekeeping or meth, this is just the new gold rush," Laurence Burkin, apiarist manager at The True Honey Co in Dannevirke, near Wellington, told Reuters reporters.

In a six month period at the end of 2016, 400 bee and honey thefts were reported to police.

"There is nothing to suggest at this stage that beehive/honey theft is directly linked with a particular gang, but we do believe this offending is organised and likely being carried out by groups," said senior sergeant Alasdair MacMillan, at New Zealand Police.

Hives are valued at $2,000 each
Hives are valued at $2,000 each

The New Zealand honey industry is big business.

In the first six months of 2016, exports were valued at $315 million, with a third of that going to China and Hong Kong.

In addition, Manuka honey, which is revered for its health benefits, has tripled in value since 2012.

The prized product can now fetch as much as $148 per kg, with individual hives valued at $2,000 each, The Telegraph reports.

The New Zealand Police say they are now working with honey farmers to increase security, so that hives don't fall into the hands of gangs.