For some people, bees are a scary little insect, hell-bent on stinging you and only you when you’re trying to enjoy a nice day outside. But in nature, they help pollinate at least 30 percent of the world’s crops – so they’re pretty damn useful.
Recently, bee populations have been taking a worrying downward spiral – about 30 percent every year – due to insecticides, pesticides, invasive parasites and a declining quality diet.
So you can imagine the utter horror and heartbreak one couple experienced when they found their entire collection of bees had died. Justin Engelhardt owns Wild Hill Honey farm in Sioux City and awoke one morning last month to find 50 beehives had been knocked over.
Two young boys have been arrested for the crime, aged 12 and 13, and are staring down the possibility of 10 years behind bars if convicted to the fullest extent of the law.
Justin has told the Sioux City Journal: “They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely.”
It’s estimated the damage done to his beehive business is in the area of $60,000 – and the Independent reports that because their insurance companies don’t cover bees, they’re on their own.
Mr Engelhardt adds: “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 vandalised or destroyed.”
But in the face of such devastation, people have banded together to help Justin and his business by starting a fundraising page. More than $30,000 has been raised in three weeks and Justin and his wife Tori are thrilled.
A statement issued by their business on Facebook says: “Thank you to everyone for your generous contributions and your amazing show of support. 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.”
“We had no idea our plea for help with identifying the vandals was going to travel so far and wide. People have been so generous, we will definitely be able to bring our bee sanctuary back to its former glory.”
Not only do the two young boys face up to a decade behind bars, but they could also incur a fine of $10,000.
They’ve been charged with criminal mischief in the first degree, agricultural animal facilities offences and burglary in the third degree as well as an aggravated misdemeanour for possession of burglar’s tools.
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