7 Nov 2012

Beekeeper offers reward after hives sabotaged

4:38 pm on 7 November 2012

A Northland beekeeper is offering a reward to anyone who can help find the person who sabotaged his hives, killing millions of bees.

Competition for space in manuka-rich areas, coupled with the high price of honey, is being blamed for the increasing number of hives being destroyed or stolen in the region.

The owner of Honey Team, John Whitehead, says someone laced 90 of his hives with poison, killing about 4 million bees.

He has told police and also offered up a reward of $5000 for information that leads to a successful conviction.

Mr Whitehead says he believes it was another beekeeper who destroyed the insects, as it was a professional job done using industry tools.

A second apiarist has reported 17 hives stolen and another seven tipped over in the past month.

Whangarei Beekeepers president Kevin Wallace says the industry has turned ugly, with beekeepers from all over the North Island trying to take advantage of vast tracts of manuka in the region.

Mr Wallace says that has led not only to the theft of hives, but an alarming increase in the spread of American foulbrood disease.

Top quality manuka honey now fetches up to $400 per kilogram.