Two boys were arrested Friday by police for allegedly vandalizing a honey business bykilling half a million bees in late December in the U.S. state of Iowa.
The juveniles allegedly destroyed 50 hives at the Wild Hill Honey business in Sioux City, exposing the hundreds of thousands of bees to bitter cold.
“All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures,” Sioux City police said in a release.
The names of the juveniles have not been released, but they are 12 and 13 years old, the Sioux City Journal reported. They’re charged with criminal mischief, agricultural animal facilities offenses and burglary.
Justin and Tori Englehardt, the owners of Wild Hill, were despondent by the “senseless” act.
“They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely,” Justin Engelhardt told the Journal. “They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could. Doesn’t look like anything was stolen, everything was just vandalized or destroyed.”
Even so, the owners vowed to rebuild the business, which is estimated to cost about $60,000. The damage was not covered by the owners’ insurance, but fundraising campaigns have raised thousands of dollars for the recovery.
The owners thanked donors in a post on a GoFundMe page.
“Because of you, we will be able to continue our business in the spring. We are deeply moved by your compassion. Between the contributions and the equipment we were able to salvage, our needs have been met.”
Bees found to have buzzworthy brain power
Researchers at the Queen Mary University of London taught the bees to roll a ball towards a hole in return for food, challenging many preconceived notions about how intelligent insects can be.
Englehardt told the Journal that he believed the story resonated with so many because of the declining population of bees due to habitat loss.
Last year, some species of bees were identified as endangered for the first time ever.
A mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, in which worker bees abandon their queen, has contributed to declining bee numbers.
“Bees are critical, and people are conscious of the fact that bees are having a hard time right now and facing some real challenges,” Englehardt said.
Concern about colony collapse among the honeybees spurred Bryan and Barbara Ritter of Garland, Kan., to leave leave their jobs in the Kansas City area and move to a farm about 100 miles south and become virtual beekeepers. Essentially we keep bees for others,” Barbara Ritter explained.