In Vermont, some beekeepers have recently known great sadness because they lost thousands of bees to a hateful act. The medicine for this pain has been community kindness.
In mid-January, both the humans and bees at BTV Honey had some rough days because around 150,000 bees were casualties in an act of destruction and vandalism that destroyed 6 beehives and some greenhouses at Intervale Farms.
It is reported that according to the police, a stolen truck was probably driven through the field and used as a deadly weapon by the vandal.
One of the beekeepers who suffered the loss, Bill Mares, has been keeping bees for nearly 50 years. He will not let such an act of vandalism affect him. He likens it to losing a dog. It hurts, but you do your best to move on and keep going.
Bill Mares enjoys beekeeping so much, he teaches this multi-sensory hobby at CVU High School. He says it is one of the greatest hobbies out there and he loves introducing people to it. It is also his way of giving back to the community, because he had a wonderful teacher himself, a local beekeeper that he said was like the Pied Piper of beekeepers.
When news spread about the random act of vandalism the beekeepers and bees were subjected to, it seems the community saw it as a way to give back to the beekeepers.
This unrelated 1:31-minute video of beehives destroyed by vandals in South Africa is by Tim Ellwood and was made in May 2021. It shows the horror and devastation of bee murders and hive destructions on a massive scale in South Africa. The economic value of this South African loss in bees and equipment is estimated at 300,000 Rand, or around US$20,000. The beekeeper's anger spills over, as he says the police are not even bothered to investigate. WARNING: video contains f-bomb language from a devastated beekeeper so if you are sensitive to such language please mute or skip the video.
Returning to the Vermont beehive vandalism, a GoFundMe page was set up right after the incident by Ed Adrian, and it currently shows $17,500 has been raised and the page is not currently accepting any further donations. So far, the page can still be viewed on GoFundMe by searching for: Help ICF and the Beekeepers.
Hive repair should cost around $6,000-$7,000 and the balance will go to fixing the greenhouses that were damaged. If any funds are left over, they will go to the Intervale Community Farm where the hives are kept.
There is no doubt that Mares and the others who suffered losses are feeling the pain of losing their bees, as well as joy from the kindness the community has shown, and knowing that they can recover and start again. Unfortunately, no suspect has been caught yet in connection with this crime.
We have blogged many times about random acts of violence and destruction aimed at bees and beekeepers in the US, UK, and in other countries around the world, like the South African case in the video above.
Community kindness is always the greatest medicine to help beekeepers not only get up and running again, but so that they know they are valued by their communities.
Beekeepers and bee lovers are usually peaceful people. Acts of intentional malevolence towards bees, hives and beekeepers, as well as theft, are intolerable. We should all make this known to our local police and governmental officials.
As always, educating people about the beauty and value of bees to the human race, and their role in the ecosystem, is probably the best long term goal for us all to help save the bees.