Half A Million Bees Killed After Hives Torn Apart And Set Alight
Beekeepers "broke down in tears" when they discovered the ashen remains of beekeeping boxes scattered across a yard near Houston, Texas.
Beehives were ripped apart and set alight on Saturday night, with some even thrown into a lake, leaving the local beekeeping community devastated.
The destroyed hives belong to members of the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association, many of whom practise beekeeping as a hobby and have been caring for the insects for years.
"The intention of this yard was to help hobby beekeepers, and also to raise community awareness of beekeeping," the association wrote in a Facebook post.
The destruction has come at the worst possible time, right when the bees were beginning their most active season.
The good news is the surviving insects are recovering well, the association is praying the queen bees are still in the remaining colonies.
But the bee and honey loss could take more than a year to replace, which could have serious consequences for the local environment.
"Tomatoes, squash, watermelons... bees pollinate those," Steve Brackmann, who sells beekeeping supplies and queen bees, told CNN. "So if bees don't pollinate those, you get zero vegetables, we would see next to nothing in the vegetable stores."
One member told ABC13 that he lost all of the honey he expected to sell at farmers markets this summer.
Police are now on the hunt for the vandal/vandals who fled and remain on the run.
Brazoria County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward of up to US$5,000 for information while the beekeepers association is offering a $1,000 reward as well as asking for donations to help it recover from the losses.
As of Thursday afternoon, the group had raised US$15,000.