It’s not uncommon to hear about vandalism in big cities and small towns, but most people expect to hear about graffiti, broken windows, or something similar when they think of vandalism. For Sioux City, Iowa, the form of vandalism that hit their town had far-reaching consequences beyond washing walls or repairing busted car windows. It could potentially mean the loss of a family’s livelihood, and it most definitely means the loss of thousands of innocent bystanders—specifically honeybees. These vandals knocked over dozens of hives over into the snow, killing half a million honeybees in addition to equipment the beekeepers kept in a locked supply shed.
Justin and Tori Engelhardt, who have owned and run Wild Hill Honey for six years now, selling pure, creamed, and raw honey, said they came to their hives to wipe snow off their roughly 50 hives before finding them and their shed destroyed. “It was an absolutely senseless act. All the equipment was taken outside and kind of beat up and thrown around and then got snowed on,” Justin said. “Every single hive was knocked over, every single hive. Absolutely nothing as far as we can tell was stolen—besides a security camera we had up there that probably would have had footage.”
Local police have been investigating evidence found at the scene, measuring footprints and dusting for fingerprints as well as a few other potential leads. As for the Engelhardt’s, they also have a contracting business, but, per Justin, this extensive loss may jeopardize their future work as beekeepers. “It’s not our only source of income, thank goodness, but it is an important one, and it’s a big loss,” Justin said. “We’ve been really, really deeply moved by the response of the community. Last night, some people set up a couple of different GoFundMe sites. [We are] just overwhelmed by the generosity.”
With these various GoFundMe sites going live, donations from across the nation have been pouring in for the hurting Iowa beekeepers, who estimated roughly $60,000 in damages were done that their insurance won’t cover. Todd LaCroix, who started one of the GoFundMe pages for the Engelhardt’s, said, “Tori and Justin are wonderful people who have just suffered a terrible loss. The destruction of their bees and equipment is not only a financial hardship but has taken an emotional toll as well…Any help is appreciated.”
As of December 30, LaCroix surpassed his goal of $24,000, bringing in over $28,000 in donations. According to the Engelhardt’s, they hope to restock their hives in the spring and are currently salvaging anything they can. They’re hoping to resume their honey sales by 2019, which the many donations they’ve received will surely help with.
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