Bees are an important part of our ecosystem because it is estimated that one-third of our total food intake has been pollinated by a bee before it is consumed. So when news came that 2 boys in Sioux City, Iowa killed half a million bees, people were rightfully upset.
Justin Engelhardt, who is a co-owner of Wild Hill Honey, told The Sioux City Journal: ‘they knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely.’
Wild Hill Honey is a honey farm with 50 beehives and sells jars of pure, raw and creamed variations of honey.
Justin and Tori Engelhardt are co-owners of Wild Hill Honey and it was on the morning of December 28 when they stepped outside to brush the snow off the beehives when they found all 50 of them smashed and destroyed.
The damage resulted in the deaths of all the bees and more than $60,000 in damages.
Justin told The Sioux City 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 though the vandalism and destruction occurred in a secluded area with no video cameras, police in Sioux City were still able to track down the culprits after getting tips from the public. Two boys aged 12 and 13 have been arrested and charged with three felonies, criminal mischief in the first degree, agricultural animal facilities offenses, burglary in the third degree, an aggravated misdemeanor, and possession of burglar’s tools.
The two suspects cannot be named since they will be charged as juveniles. In addition, according to the state code, if the persons are found guilty then the offended parties can get a compensation that is almost three times more than the initial damages. A family friend of the Engelhardts, Todd LaCroix, started an online campaign that raised more than $30,000 within the first week before it was deactivated.
Justin told The Sioux City Journal: ‘it was amazing and we are deeply grateful for all of the contributions from the people of Sioux City and people around the country. It’s thanks to those contributions that we’ll be able to rebuild in the spring. We’ve already made arrangements to get some hives down south and we’ll bring them up in the spring and we’ll be right back to where we were.’
He concluded: ‘bees are critical and people are conscious of the fact that bees are having a hard time right now and facing some real challenges.’