Honey bees have been coming up in the public spotlight more and more in recent years, but unfortunately, none of the news has been good for these insects. Since the early 2000’s, there has been a drastic increase in a phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), which has been causing hives all over the world to suddenly disappear.
These CCD events are happening on a much more regular basis than they should be, especially in North America. Because of this, bee populations have been dropping at drastically quick rates and putting the future of honey bees into a dire situation. But on top of the abnormal colony collapses, people are now going out of their way to destroy bee hives themselves.
Justin and Tori Engelhardt are a husband and wife team who are professional beekeepers. Their farm currently has 50 different beehives that they manage together after becoming enthralled with the insects and starting their own honey business six years ago. But when they went out to check on their hives about a month ago, they discovered disaster.
Every single one of their hives was knocked over and destroyed.
“They wiped us out completely,” Justin Engelhardt told The Sioux City Journal after the Dec. 27 vandalism. “They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could.”
The act of destruction killed at least 500,000 bees and cost the couple around $60,000 in damaged property.
With so much damage and basically all of their bees dead, the couple believes that their business, Wild Hill Honey, will be almost impossible to rebuild because insurance does not offer any kind of coverage to protect beehives.
“This probably sunk us,” Justin Engelhardt said.
But since the couple is so well-liked in the community, a GoFundMe page was quickly started to help Wild Hill Honey figure out a way to get back on their feet and bring their beloved business back to them. The page brought in $30,000 in the first couple days.
“Between the contributions and the equipment we were able to salvage, our needs have been met,” Justin said of the much-needed community help.
Nearly three weeks after the initial act of vandalism occurred, Sioux City police finally found and arrested two culprits that were found in connection to the crime: two boys aged 12 and 13.
The charges—which include three felonies and one aggravated misdemeanor and would result in up to 10 years in prison and nearly $10,000 in fines—will likely not apply to the criminals since they are juveniles, and the punishment will be determined in juvenile court.
This act of vandalism, when considered with other recent animal crimes, shows an extremely worrying trend of more and more violence being committed against animals for seemingly no apparent reason.
Until animals, especially ones that are already in danger like honey bees, begin getting the protections they deserve, there is a great fear that the world of wildlife will begin looking drastically different in a very short period of time.
To learn about the plight of honey bees and to see how you can help them, check out the information below.
Andrew Terpstra grew up on Zoobooks and National Park excursions, so the outdoors and wildlife became a big part of his life. Now he is trying to help whomever he can, and the causes he holds dear, with the words he writes.