NSW police say thieves may have got more than they bargained for when they stole beehives in the state’s far west.

Officers from the Barrier Police District and Rural Crime squad are looking for a person, or people they say may suddenly have appeared with multiple bee stings sustained when they stole six hives.

The brazen thieves stole the beehives from a property along the Menindee-Wilcannia Road between June 20 and 29.

While the offenders may have thought themselves slick, Detective Sergeant Andrew McLean from the Rural Crime Prevention team said the clues at the site of the robbery suggested the criminals were caught up in a sting of their own creation.

Sign with Menindee written on it, on the side of a country road

The beehives were stolen along the Menindee-Wilcannia Road.(

ABC News: Laura Brierley Newton

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“The crime scene as it were, lead the landholder and police to believe to person or persons responsible may not be au fait with how to conduct themselves around these types of beehives.

“So, there is a possibility that they may have been stung multiple times,” Sergeant McLean said.

While Sergeant McLean said it was not common to see these sorts of thefts, he was not shocked.

“Thieves will steal anything that’s not nailed down, and unfortunately, beehives are no different,” Sergeant McLean said.

Bees go on the attack

Davis Bock, from the museum’s ‘Ask an Expert’ section, said he was not surprised to hear the thieves received a less than ideal welcome from the bees.

He believes if one of the assailants was stung, it could have initiated a stinging tsunami.

“But in doing that, they release some pheromone into the air, and other bees will sense that, so if the other bees around the hive sense that the hive is being attacked through those smells, they’ll also go out and sting whatever is attacking,” he said. 

“So, you get this group defence mechanism happening, and possibly that’s what’s happened.”

Mr Bock said anyone considering a beehive should at least know how dangerous it might be, with bees one of Australia’s most dangerous animals.

“When you talk about Australia’s most dangerous animals, everyone thinks of sharks, or spiders, venomous snakes or even crocodiles.

a close up of a bee with a yellow flower

Bees and horses kill the most Australians every year: According to Australia Musuem’s David Bock(

ABC Open: Richard Flesfadar

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Police have not yet made any arrests but are appealing for anyone in the Menindee, Wilcannia and Broken Hill areas for details.

“These thieves are very opportunistic, so they could be from anywhere around that area so certainly if anyone in those areas is presenting has any information, we urge them to contact police.”

“No matter how insignificant you think the information is, it might be that piece of the puzzle we need, so by all means get in contact.”

Bee thieves find themselves caught up in sting operation
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