The National Beekeepers Association sees beehive thefts in Northland as another sign of growing pressure on the industry as more people chase high returns from manuka honey.
Beekeepers in Northland have reported the disappearance of groups of hives in recent months between Wellsford and Kerikeri.
However, the Whangarei Beekeepers Club has been able to track down more than 140 stolen hives and has passed on evidence of the thefts to police.
The National Beekeepers Association says there's no indication that systematic thefts of hives are occurring in other parts of the country.
But chief executive Daniel Paul says the number of beekeepers is growing and demand for manuka honey has increased tensions in the industry.
Despite losses caused by the varroa mite, the number of hives has increased to almost 400,000.
Mr Paul says a significant number of new, small scale or hobby beekeepers have started operating.