Demand for high-end honey prompts beehive crime wave
Manuka honey has been touted outside of its native New Zealand by the likes of Dr. Oz, Kourtney Kardashian and the aforementioned certain actress-turned-lifestyle guru as the superfood of the moment a Kiwi-produced miracle worker with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (allegedly) capable of calming upset tummies, soothing sore throats, healing burns and making ones skin glow just like their favorite Hollywood starlet.
Made from nectar sourced from the manuka tree, a ubiquitous white-flowered shrub found throughout New Zealand, the bitter-tasting honeys supposed healing properties and celebrity endorsements have prompted a massive recent spike in demand. As a result, the bulk price of mauka honey, once relatively obscure outside of New Zealand where it is a multitasking staple of traditional Maori medicine has skyrocketed. In 2010, the uber-viscous golden elixir went for NZ $37.50 ($27.46 USD) per kilogram. Today, the medicinal liquid gold fetches upwards of NZ $100 ($73 USD) per kilogram.
With all of this, of course, comes increased competition amongst producers. The Guardian describes the current state of New Zealand manuka honey production as being a gold rush thats rapidly spiraling out of control.
Uncouth and downright criminal behavior has been rampant across New Zealands manuka-heavy regions including the Northland, north of Auckland on the North Island, and Otago, a South Island region best known for its wines. Nearly 200 honey or hive thefts were reported to authorities from June 2015 to June 2016 and, in some extreme cases, the hardworking bees that make the high-end honey possible have been murdered en masse.
Image courtesy of mnn.com