Honey producers in Western Australia claim that theft, senseless slaughter of bees and vandalism of beehives costs their industry tens of thousands of dollars every year.
- Beekeepers beg the public to leave their hives alone
- They say vandals are causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to their hives and bee colonies
- Some beekeepers are investing in cameras to monitor their hives
Beekeepers roam the state with their hives, placing them in remote locations for weeks to allow the bees to feed and produce honey.
But leaving the hives unattended has exposed beekeepers to senseless vandalism and destruction.
Bee Industry Council of WA chairman Brendon Fewster said there were more and more cases where wardens had returned to their hives only to find they had been shot or knocked down.
“It’s mostly happening in the state forest… where there are recreational four-wheelers there,” he said.
Rupert Phillips of House of Honey in the Swan Valley said he has used cameras in the bush to monitor his hives and track fleas inside the hives in the event of theft.
“I remember one particular incident where I had beehives on stands east of Perth, the bees were under a tree, someone came in and purposely pushed all the hives out of the stands,” he said. he declared.
“The hives landed on the entrance side, preventing the bees from coming out, many of them suffocated in the heat, and the ants got stuck in the rest that survived.”
Mr Phillips said the event cost his business at least $ 20,000.
Mr Fewster said vandalism was a problem for wardens statewide and that he knew of a case where a beekeeper damaged 120 beehives at a time, costing a small business more than $ 100,000 .
The two beekeepers agreed that the financial impact and loss of production due to vandalism has been replaced by concerns about the health and welfare of bees.
“Just leave the poor little guys alone, they’re just living their lives,” Mr. Fewster said.
“It’s pretty awful to drive in one of your loads and see the beehives all strewn all over the place… all those beautiful frames of baby bees lying squashed and lying on the ground.
“It happened to me recently and my lower lip was shaking as I cleaned all the gear.”
Mr Fewster said it took months for beekeepers to rebuild bee numbers after mass death from vandalism.
Mr Phillips said honey theft was also a problem. He recently had 25 boxes of honey stolen.
“We try as much as possible to hide the beehives from the main roads and tracks,” he said.