The young vandals destroyed 50 hives in a bee farm at Sioux City, Iowa, and also destroyed equipment. They have been charged with three felonies and one charge of an aggravated misdemeanor.
Two young boys aged 12 and 13 in Sioux City, Iowa, would have never thought that their mischief would cost them so much. They broke into a honey farm belonging to Justin and Tori Engelhardt and destroyed half a million bees, and vandalized equipment and property worth $60,000. Despite being minors, if convicted, they will serve 10 years in prison and pay $10,000 in fines. It was supposed to be a normal day on December 27, 2018, for the Engelhardt's tending to their bees. But to their horror they found each one of their 50 beehives overturned and hacked apart. The supply shed had been ransacked.
"Every hive was knocked over...dead bees in the snow." Vandals destroyed 50 beehives in Iowa, killing more than half a million bees. pic.twitter.com/389duyyo4n— CBS News (@CBSNews) December 30, 2017
Their 6-year-old honey business was wiped out by a single and cruel act of vandalism. According to NBC, Justin said, "They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely. They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could." The vandals were finally caught three weeks later by the Sioux City Police Department. The boys have three felony charges of criminal mischief, burglary, offenses to an agricultural animal facility and one charge of an aggravated misdemeanor for possession of burglary tools.
They found the culprits that killed half a million bees by vandalizing their hives & exposing the bees to frigid temps... a 12 & a 13 yr old.— 🍁🍂Autumnal Gabi🍂🍁 (@EienAi) January 19, 2018
Thankfully a gofund me met its mark to help the business they destroyed.
But still...all those poor bees.https://t.co/nFh0ZNdniP
Since the boys are minors, the case will first come up in juvenile court. It is possible that they could be spared a large part of the serious charges. Justin said "It’s huge, right? It demonstrates the professionalism and determination of the Sioux City Police Department and we couldn’t be happier." In order to help the couple recover their huge losses, a local resident launched a crowdfunding campaign. Hearing the couple's story, the fundraising effort brought in around $30,000 within a few days. Justin wrote in the crowdfunding page, "Between the contributions and the equipment we were able to salvage, our needs have been met." The Engelhardt's are now on their way to restarting their business this spring after their devastating loss.
Speaking about how he got into the business during a radio interview, Justin said he was inspired after hearing famed apiologist Thomas Seeley, author of The Wisdom of the Hive on a radio program. Justin said, "The more I studied about the bees, the more I was fascinated by their behavior. They communicate with each other by dance. If a forager leaves the hive and finds a very good nectar source, she’ll return to the nectar source and dance on the face of the comb inside the hive to let her sisters know the direction and distance of the nectar source. They’re fascinating. I could just lay and watch them for hours.”