Approximately 200,000 honey bees died in an agricultural community in Monterey County over the weekend after some 100 hives were toppled to the ground and soaked in diesel fuel, according to the property owner.
The incident took place in Prunedale between 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, television station KSBW in Salinas reported.
“Somebody came in here, and tipped over all the boxes, and sprayed them with diesel fuel. It killed a whole bunch of bees,” said Mike Hickenbottom, who owns the property along Echo Valley Road where the bees were killed.
The insects belonged to Central Valley beekeeper Alfonzo Perez, who kept his bees in Monterey County because of the colder temperatures in the area. In addition, he told KSBW, the tiny creatures liked to feed on the eucalyptus trees on the Prunedale grounds.
Perez estimated about 200,000 bees were killed, costing him more than $50,000–a large portion of his annual salary.
“I just feel really bad for Alfonzo because he works so hard to support his family. Then somebody goes and does something like this,” Hickenbottom told KSBW.
He started a GoFundMe to help Perez, whose wife is expecting the couple’s fourth child next month. The account seeks to raise $70,000 to replace the bees and hives, as well as to help with “family obligations and endless hours of hard work.”
Hickenbottom told the station he believed his neighbors may have been behind the attack. Part of the reason, he said, is that they complained about the bees on several occasions.
The non-aggressive Russian and Italian honey bees are allowed to fly about the property freely, and the neighbor’s children were afraid to go outside, according to Hickenbottom.
“I go up around the bee boxes without any protective clothing on. I’ve never been stung,” he said.
The two men filed a police report with the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, which has not made any arrests in the case, according to KSBW.