Beacon Herald Article - Bee Vandalism
Tens of thousands of bees are dead and more than $10,000 worth of honey and equipment may have been damaged and contaminated as a result of vandalism at an apiary located behind the Stratford-Perth Archives, west of Stratford, early Saturday morning.
More than two days after discovering two toppled-over bee hives, honey comb strewn about the ground, and piles of dead honey bees, beekeeper Wilf Sukowski of Waltzing Bees Apiary is still trying to determine the extent of the damage.
Sukowski found the damaged hives when he arrived at the apiary around 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Prior to that, he had last checked in on the bees on Friday night after dropping off approximately 80,000 honey bees rescued from a Stratford bed and breakfast.
As it had been raining Friday night into early Saturday morning, Sukowski estimates the vandalism occurred sometime between the time the rain stopped at around 4 a.m. and when he arrived on scene.
I was going to come back Saturday morning and do what I had to do to introduce them into the hive properly, Sukowski said. I come out here at 8:30 a.m., the (safety) ropes are laying on the ground and then I look up and (the two newest) hives were knocked over.
The sliding doors on the two catch boxes that contained the rescued bees had also been jimmied open and the bees in one of those boxes had long since flown away. In the other box, Sukowski found about half of the 40,000 bees that had been in there dead.
Im thinking they were sprayed to kill all the bees, he said. Because, if not, you open that box and you get 40,000 bees flying at you.
Sukowski found even more dead bees lying in piles scattered amongst the apiarys other six hives.
Hive number eight, theres nothing coming out of it. And hive number six, theres nothing coming out of it. And they were all as active as (the other hives), he said.
Because Sukowski suspects some kind of chemical spray was used to kill his bees, he is sending a honey sample and a few dead bees to the Honey Bee Research Centre at the University of Guelph to determine whether the honey in all of his hives has been contaminated. Should that be the case, Sukowski will be required to destroy all eight of his hives.
The broken hives and dead bees alone could mean a loss of between $4,000 and $5,000. If Sukowski finds his honey is indeed contaminated, that loss could jump to more than $10,000.
To replace an average bee hive, youre talking $1,000 Plus, then youve got your bees. When you buy bees, you buy three pounds of bees, which is 7,000 bees, and it costs you $200. An average hive has got 50,000 to 80,000 bees. Plus, I was hoping to get 100 pounds of honey (over the next two weeks). At $10 to $14 a pound, thats a lot of money youre talking about, Sukowski said.
As neither honey nor hive was taken from the apiary, both Sukowski and the Perth County OPP are at a loss for a possible motive. Without any suspects at this time, the OPPs investigation into the matter is ongoing.
Anyone with information is asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS). Information can also sent in online anonymously to www.pc-crimestoppers.ca/.