BEEKEEPER John Ward lost bees and honey worth thousands of dollars when 30 of his hives were stolen recently.
Mr Ward estimates thieves took about $6000 worth of his hives and bees in early to mid September from the One Eye State Forest, near Heathcote, north of Melbourne.
They were in a forest site about 5km west of Heathcote, at One Eye Track, which is off the McIvor Highway.
Mr Ward, who is in his 80s, maintains about 200 hives and for decades has supplied Capilano.
He has scaled back his workload and supply quota in the past few years.
Mr Ward said that earlier in the spring, he moved about 100 hives from the forest clearing in One Eye Track, carting them to an almond plantation near Robinvale for a few weeks of contract pollination.
He left behind a few dozen hives, but by mid September, the forest site had been raided and the best of the hives taken.
Mr Ward said his hives and many of the frames were firebranded with his identity code, B79.
He said he had already spent more than $1200 to requeen his other hives and begin building new hives to replace the ones stolen.
He was not able to claim on his insurance policy, because he let it lapse about six weeks before the theft.
"But I have made sure I paid it up again," Mr Ward said.
His last insurance claim for the loss of hives was in the early 1990s, when he lost about 100 hives in a bushfire at Tocumwal in NSW.
Anybody with information about the hive theft should contact Heathcote Police Station, on (03) 5433 3711.
Meanwhile, central Victorian beekeepers are reporting sporadic honey flows in native forest sites because many stands of trees failed to set buds last spring and are consequently not flowering this spring.
Peter McDonald of McDonald Honey in Castlemaine said the next two to three months "could be a bit skinny" and individual beekeepers may have to do some supplementary sugar feeding of their hives to tide their bees over.
"At the moment, we are hopeful for the future," Mr McDonald said. "We would like to have honey coming out our ears come the autumn, but it depends upon the weather."