The owners of Wild Hill Honey in Sioux City, Iowa, were in for a shock Thursday morning when they discovered that their beekeeping supplies shed had been completely ransacked the previous night.

The vandalism killed at least half a million bees and caused a damage of approximately $60,000 to the well-established business run by Justin Engelhardt and his wife, Tori Engelhardt.

The couple discovered the vandalism when they had gone to clear the snow off the 50 bee hives that were stored in a shed on their sprawling 18.5 acre property on Sioux City’s west side.

The Engelhardt couple got into the honey business some six years back and started the Wild Hill Honey company. They started showing interest in beekeeping after they heard an interview with the world famous animal behaviorist Thomas Seeley on the National Public Radio.

The company sells a variety of honey including pure, raw, and creamed honey, besides an array of honey byproducts.

According to a report in local publication Sioux City Journal, Engelhardt termed the act of vandalism as “completely senseless."

“They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely.”

He added, “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.”

According to the NBC affiliated television station KTIV, Engelhardt said, “Fifty hives this time of year, it’s upwards of half a million bees. It’s probably between 50 and 60- thousand dollars’ worth of damage.”

He said they would be hit hard by the loss as insurance companies do not offer coverage to beehives. "This probably sunk us,” he said.

He called the Sioux City Police Department who were prompt in their response. “They dusted for fingerprints, they took a lot of photographs. There was some footprints, and they got some information from that and they’re going to continue with the investigation. We’re really, really happy with the police response," said Engelhardt.

Engelhardt also took to Facebook to share the incident. Writing on Wild Hills Honey Facebook page, he asked people to come forward with information about the vandals and help the police track them.

The police have asked people to call the Sioux City Police at 712-279-6960 if they have any information about the crime, reported the KTIV. 

A website called Honey Bee Suite provides a guide on how to keep your beehives safe from vandalism.

According to the website, it is actually difficult to stop someone from vandalizing them, but there still are a few measures that can be taken to prevent such wanton vandalization.

The website suggests the following steps:

  • Paint your hives in such a color that it is not easily visible from a distance or it just camouflages against the shed where the hives are kept.
  • Put the hives behind tall fence as it will not only hide the hives but also forces the bees to fly high. This would not seek much attention.
  • Keep hives away from roads, crosswalks, parks, and sidewalks this will not let many people know about the hives at your place.