Last Friday was a terrible time for those passionate about bees. Someone intentionally destroyed over a dozen hives in Texas by setting them on fire, thereafter dumping them in a nearby pond.
Seen as pure vandalism, local beekeepers are left in a total state of shock.
Making matters worse, the destruction of the hives came at the same time as the bees’ most active pollinating and honey-making season. This effectively could mean a wait of more than a year for the regional population to recover.
Roughly 24 colonies have been torn apart and burned, claiming the lives of a depressing 500,000 to 600,000 bees according to Steven Brackmann, president of the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association (BCBA).
Brackmann told KTRK:
“It takes a long time to establish a colony. It can take a year to get a full one, but the queens were probably killed, which means those that survived have nowhere to go.
Tomatoes, squash, watermelons, bees pollinate those. So if bees don’t pollinate those, you get zero vegetables, we would see next to nothing in the vegetable stores.”
Surrounding Alvin, Texas, the region is popular among beekeepers from all walks of the US due to its prevalence of Chinese Tallow trees.
In a Facebook post describing the crime, the BCBA said:
“It’s bad enough to think in today’s world this would happen but dumping them over and then setting fire to them is beyond comprehension … I broke down in tears when I saw a floating brood frame in the water with bees still caring for the brood.”
Dane Beito, a local bee farmer who sells lotions, candles and honey has told reporters that it is very likely that the surviving colonies will likely be lost, noting that whoever destroyed the bees must have known something about them.
“It really is unbelievable what took place. Hopefully somebody shows up somewhere that’s pretty stung up, but at nighttime, bees don’t fly like they do during the day, they stay pretty close.”
The Brazoria County deputy who discovered the crimes was on a routine patrol when he observed a fire from the distance. Able to put out the blaze, he was unfortunately too late as the damage had already been done.
Investigators are looking into the crime, which happens to fall under the category of felony for criminal mischief and a state jail felony for arson, both carrying a potential fine for up to $10,000 in damages with a possible 6 months to 2 years imprisonment.
The BCBA with over 300 members has offered a $1,000 reward for anyone willing to turn in the culprit.
The group is simultaneously actively raising money for those who face potential financial losses due to the heinous crimes. One member has lost all the honey he planned to sell at an upcoming farmers market. They have already raised $16,776 through Facebook when going to print.
This senseless act of vandalism and needless destruction of bees faces a crisis of true global proportion, with governing agencies like the EPA and scientific communities sounding the alarm for a few previous years due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Threatening the existence of bee populations globally.
The overuse of pesticides known as neonicotinoids are largely to blame according to studies, among other factors.
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