The owner of a small business was left devastated after discovering that vandals killed an estimated 500,000 bees at his company. The incident occurred at Iowa’s Wild Hill Honey and the owner, Justin Engelhardt, says his business may never recover from the huge loss.
According to local news station KMEG, the damage was discovered when his wife went to clear the snow off their hives on Thursday. The couple says all 50 of their hives had been smashed to pieces.
“I knew it was going to be bad we went around the shed every hive was knocked over, dead bees in the snow, it was terrible,” Englehardt told reporters.
Freezing temperatures outside ensured the bees’ death as they were unable to survive the cold weather.
Engelhardt called the killing of 500,000 of his bees “completely senseless.” The vandals caused an estimated $60,000 worth of damage, which is not covered by insurance as insurers don’t offer beehive coverage, KMEG wrote.
It appears that those responsible for the crime were most likely teens because nothing was stolen except for the security camera. As of the time of this report, police have yet to announce suspects but they are currently investigating the incident. Police are hoping that the footprints and fingerprints found at the scene will point them in the direction of a suspect.
There is hope for Englehardt and his wife because after his tragic incident was broadcast across several major media outlets, hundreds of people from across the country donated thousands of dollars to a GoFundMe set up by Todd LaCroix on behalf of the Engelhardts and Wild Hill Honey.
As of Friday afternoon, more than $20,000 had been raised through three different approved GoFundMe accounts in Wild Hill Honey’s name, the Globe Gazette reports. Engelhardt thanked supporters Friday and says he and his wife, Tori, are grateful for the outpouring of community support they have received since the vandalism occurred.
The vandalism is especially troubling because pollinating insects like bees are very valuable to our system and the use of pesticides, climate change and their change of habitat is seriously damaging them. In countries like the United States, in 2015, farmers lost 40 percent of colonies of these insects. A loss that threatens the global supply of food, because they are critical for the production of fruits, nuts, vegetables and honey, and also represent billions of dollars to the world economy.