Donations nationwide have eased the sting for an Iowa couple whose beekeeping business was destroyed by vandals, The Globe Gazette reported.
Justin and Tori Engelhardt, who own Wild Hill Honey in Sioux City, discovered their 50 hives and supplies had been ransacked Thursday. Nothing was stolen, but Justin Engelhardt said nearly half a million bees were killed and there was an estimated $60,000 worth of damage not covered by insurance. He called the destruction “completely senseless.”
“They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely,” Engelhardt told the Globe Gazette. “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 vandalized or destroyed.”
The Engelhardts opened Wild Hills Honey six years ago. They sell jars of pure, raw and creamed varieties of honey and other honey byproducts, the Globe Gazette reported.
Todd LaCroix began an approved GoFundMe account on behalf of the Engelhardts and Wild Hill Honey.
“Tori and Justin are wonderful people who have just suffered a terrible loss,” LaCroix wrote. “The destruction of their bees and equipment is not only a financial hardship but has taken an emotional toll as well.
“Unfortunately, insurance will not cover the loss of the bees and equipment. Any help is appreciated.”
LaCroix set a goal of $24,000, and that had been surpassed by midnight Friday as more than $28,000 had been pledged.
Victoria Kleber, who identified herself on the fundraising page as a 50-hive operator from southwestern Pennsylvania, said she would also donate “nucs and queen cells this spring” if she lived closer to the couple.
"I hope you will come back stronger and that the perpetrators of this cruel act will face justice," Kleber wrote. "I had ONE hive vandalized last winter and can not even imagine losing all my girls. God bless, and you are in my prayers!"
Wild Hill Honey plans to restock its hives by spring, Engelhardt said Friday, noting he and Tori are salvaging what they can. They hope to resume sales by 2019, the Globe Gazette reported.