Two children charged with killing half-a-million bees on Iowa farm

The boys have been charged with three felonies and face up to 10 years in prison if convicted

Caroline Mortimer@cjmortimer
Friday 19 January 2018 15:09
Vandals kill half a million bees on Iowa farm

Police have arrested two boys for vandalising a honey business and killing half a million bees at a farm in Iowa.

The boys, aged 12 and 13, have been charged with knocking over 50 beehives at the Wild Hill Honey farm in Sioux City which caused half a million bees to freeze to death in late December.

Wild Hill Honey owner Justin Engelhardt claimed the boys had caused $60,000 (£42,000) of damage in what he called a “completely senseless” act.

He told local newspaper the Sioux City Journal: “They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely.”

Mr Engelhardt said he and his wife had discovered the destruction on 28 December when they went to dust snow off the hives.

He said: “They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could. Doesn't look like anything was stolen, everything was just vandalised or destroyed”.

As insurers do not cover beehives in the US, the couple were set to lose everything until the case attracted national attention and a fundraising page was set up.

The page has so far raised $30,000 (£21,614) and will enable the couple to restart their business in the spring.

Mr Engelhardt said: “It was amazing and we are deeply grateful for all of the contributions from the people of Sioux City and people around the country.

“It’s thanks to those contributions that we’ll be able to rebuild in the spring. We’ve already made arrangements to get some hives down south and we’ll bring them up in the spring and we’ll be right back to where we were.”

The area where the crime is alleged to have taken place is remote, and there are not thought to have been any witnesses present. Police say they identified the suspects following a series of tip offs from the public.

The boys have been charged with criminal mischief in the first degree, agricultural animal facilities offences and burglary in the third degree as well as an aggravated misdemeanour for possession of burglar's tools.

If convicted the boys could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000 (£7,200).

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