Two Iowa minors were charged with felonies Wednesday after destroying a honey bee farm, resulting in the deaths of roughly 500,000 bees, according to USA Today.
The owner of Wild Hill Honey reported that all 50 of the beehives on his property had been destroyed Dec. 27, resulting in the deaths off all his bees due to cold temperatures, costing roughly $60,000, USA Today reported. Police arrested two boys aged 12 and 13 Wednesday, but have declined to name them. The boys face several felony charges, including first-degree criminal mischief and third-degree burglary.
Justin and Tori Engelhardt, the owners of the farm, aren’t optimistic about their business’ future, saying that insurance companies don’t offer coverage for beehives.
“This has probably sunk us,” Justin Engelhardt told the Des Moines Register.
“They destroyed all of our beehives and most of our beekeeping equipment. They tried to batter their way into our shed but eventually they piled some stuff up and went in through the window,” Engelhardt told ABC 9. “The police response was fantastic. We called and they came right away and they dusted for fingerprints at the shed.”
The two boys’ criminal charges are severe. They face up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine for the burglary charge, and up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the criminal mischief charge. Their age will certainly be a mitigating factor, however, and the penalty for criminal mischief will be scaled to the cost of the lost property.
The Engelhardts’ community rallied around the couple in the wake of the event, raising more than $30,000 for the couple to help mitigate the loss. Two GoFundMe pages raised $30,693 and $2,588 for the couple within two days of the incident.
“Thank you to everyone for your generous contributions and your amazing show of support. Because of you, we will be able to continue our business in the spring,” reads the most recent update on the first GoFundMe page. “We are deeply moved by your compassion. Between the contributions and the equipment we were able to salvage, our needs have been met. There are so many great causes to support. Our wish is that this spirit of compassion will be used to help others now. Thank you.”
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