ST. GEORGE – One area beekeeper’s visit earlier this week to the apiary he kept along the Virgin River turned into a police report after he discovered multiple hives had been destroyed in a suspected act of vandalism.
Brett Chamberlain of Brett’s Bees took to Facebook Tuesday to share photos of the shattered remains of 15 hives that appeared to have been run over.
“You could still see the tire marks on the ground and the hive fragments,” Chamberlain told St. George News Wednesday.
When Chamberlain went to check on the apiary – a site where beekeepers keep a collective of hives – in an area along of the Virgin River west of the Lin’s Market on Mall Drive, he said “it looked like a tornado had hit the place.”
Hardly anything could be salvaged from the obliterated hives, Chamberlain said in the Facebook post.
As for the bees that were within the hives, they are inactive during winter, Chamberlain said, so they did not swarm and attempt to defend the hives as they would have during warmer seasons. They were lost along with the hives.
The loss in pollination contracts and equipment is estimated at around $6,500, with the loss of honey production estimated to be around $6,000. However, one of Chamberlains beekeeping associates told him the honey loss could be as high as $10,000, he said.
At least 12 of the 15 hives were in shape for honey production next year, Chamberlain said. The general yield of the hive is around 100 pounds of honey, with a single pound being worth around $5, he said.
“As this is the way I support My family I can not afford to take such losses lightly,” Chamberlain wrote on Facebook.
Chamberlain suspects the vandalism occurred over the Thanksgiving Day weekend.
Like other beekeepers, he said he checks the apiary on a revolving basis between multiple other sites. Depending on the remoteness of where an apiary may be kept, beekeepers may only visit the scattered apiaries once every couple of weeks.
While every beekeeper deals with a measure of vandalism and theft, it’s rarely this extensive, he said. It is due to the severity of the damage that Chamberlain filed a police report in relation to the vandalism.
“Normally if one or two hives where (sic) tipped over or shot with pellet guns I would say those rascals and shake my fist in the air and that would be that,” he wrote on Facebook. “However, these particular vandals took it a little too far.”
Chamberlain believes the vandals were likely teens out causing mayhem in a pickup truck and made a stupid decision in destroying the beehives. While he wants the culprits found, he doesn’t necessarily want to press charges, as he would rather be reimbursed for the losses and move on.
“I hold no malice against them,” Chamberlain said, adding that he hopes the vandals see the news about the apiary’s destruction being spread so they might have a change of heart and step forward.
If no tips or leads comes forth initially, Chamberlain said a reward will be offered for information leading to the apprehension of the vandals.
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