A Queensland beekeeper’s club has become the latest to be stung by hive hustlers keen to capitalise on increasing honey prices.
Not even the threat of 240,000 bees put off the sticky-handed bandits who reportedly stole 12 hives containing more than 480kg of honey.
That’s probably because the rewards are sweet, with the haul potentially netting almost $2000 as wholesale honey prices reach $4 a kilogram, the highest in years, due to harsh weather conditions wreaking havoc on production.
The alleged theft has devastated the Ipswich & West Moreton Beekeepers’ Association which uses its honey for charitable pursuits, although president Benita Ironside says the crime isn’t uncommon.
“The honey’s worth the money,” she told AAP.
Ms Ironside said the hives, stolen from a private property near Ipswich, west of Brisbane, last week each contained between 40kg and 60kg of honey and some 20,000 to 30,000 bees.
Australian Honey Bee Industry Council executive director Trevor Weatherhead speculated part-time beekeepers with a ute were likely behind the crime.
Mr Weatherhead said the threat of hive theft was a concern for Australian beekeepers already stung by less than ideal production conditions.
Hot weather combined with drought and bushfires were likely to halve Australia’s annual honey production to 14,000 tonnes this year, he said.
“You get these grubs who do this sort of thing,” he said, adding many beekeepers were insured against theft.
“You definitely worry, you don’t want to lose your income.”
One Queensland beekeeper lost a lot more than his income over honey.
In 2007, Sunshine Coast man Tony Knight was fatally shot as he slept by fellow beekeeper Donald Robert Alcock, who wanted to steal his honey.
Alcock is serving a life sentence for the murder.