It was a completely senseless crime, Justin Engelhardt said.
He and his wife Tori were on their way to dust the snow off their 50 beehives on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 28, when they saw the shocking scene.
Somebody ravaged the place.
“They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely,” Engelhardt told Sioux City Journal. “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.”
All their about 500,000 bees perished.
Engelhardt said insurance companies don’t offer beehive coverage and so, after suffering damages of $50,000-$60,000, they thought the business was finished.
Could there be a silver lining to this story?
The Engelhardts have run Wild Hill Honey in Sioux City for about six years. They started the business after hearing a radio interview with Thomas Seeley, an animal behaviorist who has extensively researched bee behavior.
“We’re really well known around Sioux City,” Engelhardt said.
The Engelhardts have posted on Facebook about what happened to them and their story was picked up by multiple media outlets. Their Facebook post has been shared over 23,000 times, with many people expressing outrage about the crime.
On Friday, a GoFundMe page was set up with a goal of raising $24,000 for the Engelhardts to restart their business. By Saturday morning, the campaign already raised over $30,000, at which point the Engelhardts stopped the fundraising.
“Thank you to everyone for your generous contributions and your amazing show of support,” they wrote on Facebook. “Because of you, we will be able to continue our business in the spring. 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.”
Engelhardt complimented the Sioux City Police for a quick response. The police believe more than one suspect is involved and are asking the public for any information that may lead to cracking the case.
If you believe you have any information regarding this crime, you can contact Crime Stoppers at 712-258-TIPS. You may also text 274637 with SCPDTIP in the message line.
“Your identity is not required and a cash reward may be paid for information leading to an arrest and conviction,” the police stated. “Please help bring these individuals to justice.”