Beekeeper 'devastated' after arsonists killed around one million bees

Beekeeper is left ‘devastated’ after arsonists killed more than one million bees by dousing hives in petrol and setting them alight

  • Mariusz Chudy, 52, discovered six of his beehives damaged by fire on Saturday
  • He said he was heartbroken when he saw the burned hives at the Rushcliffe site
  • Beekeeper claimed around one million bees were killed in the devastating fire
  • Nottinghamshire Police described the arson attack as a ‘deliberately cruel act’

A beekeeper has spoken of his devastation after arsonists killed more than one million bees by dousing his hives in petrol and setting them alight. 

Mariusz Chudy, 52, from Sneinton, Nottingham, found three of his hives completely destroyed and three others partially burned when he arrived at his site at around 6pm on Saturday.

He said he was heartbroken when he found the ‘terrifying’ scene on his site in Kinoulton, Rushcliffe, which he claims killed around one million bees, who he considers to be ‘like family’ to him.

The father-of-three said he had not yet calculated how much money he had lost but estimated the value of each hive to be between £1,200 and £1,500, the BBC reported.

Mr Chudy, who has kept bees for more than 30 years, told the publication: ‘I do not understand these people. I am totally devastated. They have killed six colonies and all the equipment – and I don’t know why.’ 

Mariusz Chudy, 52, from Kinoulton, Rushcliffe, found three of his hives completely destroyed (pictured) and three partially burned when he arrived at his site at around 6pm on Saturday

The beekeeper (pictured) said he was heartbroken when he found the ‘terrifying’ scene at one of his sites, which he claims killed around one million bees, who he considers to be ‘like family’

As well as his hives being set alight, his Nottinghamshire field had also been doused in petrol, according to the beekeeper, who had built the 20 beehives himself.

He added: ‘Petrol was poured all over the field. I am just heartbroken and completely devastated.

‘I could not believe my eyes and cannot imagine who would do this. This is my life and someone has taken this away from me. It is a nightmare, just horrible.’

Nottinghamshire Police, who are currently investigating the incident, described the ‘malicious’ attack as a ‘deliberately cruel act’ which has devastated the beekeeper. 

Mr Chudy, who has sold honey, bee bread and candle wax as head of the family-run business Goldendrops Bee Farm since 1994, said he is also worried about the harm to the local environment.

He explained: ‘Setting a fire at a farm is very dangerous and could have long-term impacts.

‘It is not just about me and the bees, but for other farmers as well. The air has now been contaminated and it would be really difficult to go past that.’

It’s not clear whether the fire at Home Farm was an act of vandalism or had a more sinister motive to harm Mr Chudy’s business.

Mr Chudy said he had not calculated how much money he had lost but estimated the value of each hive to be between £1,200 and £1,500. Pictured: Damage done to the beehives by fire

Mr Chudy’s daughter Aleksandra said her father found a ‘trail of petrol’ at the site, which she believes showed that somebody ‘really wanted to burn them all down’.

She told the BBC: ‘Dad is horrified and scared that it might not be a one-off event.

‘As far as we know we have no enemies so we are unsure who would have done this.

‘The farm is not one that we advertise either so not many people know the bees were there.’ 

Mr Chudy is considering rebuilding his colonies in an alternative location following the ‘devastating’ blaze.

David Rose, the owner of the land, reported the incident to Nottinghamshire Police and said the local community are all ‘shocked’ by the attack.

The farmer said: ‘I am in shock and we are all very concerned about this.

‘We were planning to host an open day in September and show people how important bees are.

‘I do not think that we will be able to do that anymore, and it is just upsetting.’ 

A fundraising page set up by Steven Mayfield, 37, from Gedling, on Monday to help the beekeeper to rebuild his colony has already raised more than £800. 

The fundraiser had already exceeded its £500 goal within two days, with Mr Mayfield describing the arson as a ‘despicable’ thing to do.

The teacher said: ‘I was angry when I saw the ruined bee hives, it was a despicable thing to do.

Nottinghamshire Police, who are currently investigating the incident, described the ‘malicious’ attack as a ‘deliberately cruel act’ which devastated Mr Chudy (pictured)

‘Me and my partner have got a little baking business so we use a bit of his product and we already knew him.’

He also told the BBC: ‘We all need bees to pollinate our beautiful plants and when they produce such delicious honey why on Earth anyone would want to kill them all, I’ll never know.’

Mr Mayfield said he was thrilled that the local community had rallied together to help them reach their target so quickly. 

He added: ‘The fact we’re also small business holders and because we’re decent humans we wanted to do something to help.

‘That’s his life and the moment someone told us we asked around to raise some money. We’ve had a really good response, it’s only took two days to reach the target.

‘We know he builds his own stuff but we wanted to pay for his time as he rebuilds everything and gets it up and running.’

Mr Chudy said he plans to use the money from the fundraiser to rebuild his colony and buy new materials.

He continued: ‘I haven’t really been able to think about anything else since the hives were burned. This fundraiser is a really good idea, I think it’s amazing.

‘Of course the money won’t make up for all of my work that I put in by making everything for the bees myself by hand.

‘I wasn’t thinking about the cost because I used recycled materials so it was more the time and energy put in that made it so devastating, but the money will help me to rebuild quicker.

‘Its amazing when people are helping me with the colony, because for me this bee colony was like my family – it was terrible.

Mr Chudy’s daughter Aleksandra said there was a ‘trail of petrol’ on the field that she believes showed that somebody ‘really wanted to burn them all down’. Pictured: Damage done to hives

Mr Chudy might rebuild his colonies in an alternative location following the ‘devastating’ blaze as he is concerned it is not a one-off event. Pictured: The hives before the fire

‘I will use it for rebuilding the colony. I will be able to buy different material.

‘I’m very happy that people are giving me a hand. It’s nice to see people like what we do and it’s very helpful after what happened.’ 

Thomas Rawlings, based at West Bridgford police station, confirmed the force was investigating the incident after police were called to reports of the attack on Sunday.

He said: ‘This was a deliberate cruel act which has clearly left the owner devastated.

‘This was wanton vandalism, a malicious attack which has resulted in the deaths of all these bees.

‘I would urge anyone who has any information about the attack or who may have seen anything suspicious in the area to please come forward and help us with our enquiries.

‘People can ring 101 quoting incident number 515 of 21 August 2021.’ 

Two weeks ago, there were reports that honeypot thieves, who are suspected to be jealous rivals, are stealing beekeepers’ hives. 

Stolen hives contain not just honey, which can then be sold, they also hold queen bees, which can fetch over £200 each, but can go for far less on the black market.

Acquiring a new queen on the cheap means ‘dodgy’ beekeepers can start up a new colony, and increase their honey sales profits.

The British Beekeepers Association (BBA) has urged members to get their hives micro-chipped so police can identify them if they are stolen. 

A fundraiser set up by Steven Mayfield, 37, from Gedling, on Monday to help the beekeeper to rebuild his colony has already raised more than £800. Pictured: Damage done to the beehives

Other advice includes anchoring hives to the ground so they can’t be lifted on to trucks, siting them in hidden places, such as behind hedges, and marking them with the postcode in ‘permanent’ ink.

In one raid, thieves prepared to risk a severe stinging carried away a hive holding 10,000 bees and an estimated £600 worth of honey in Red Lane, Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

A hive filled with honey can weigh as much as 25kg and to stop the hive from rocking and annoying the bees, it would normally need at least two strong men to carry it.

There have been similar thefts across the UK, just as beekeepers are rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of a bumper honey crop. 

Police and the BBA say it is a ‘specialised’ crime which would have to be done by people with knowledge of how to handle bees.

In Norfolk, where there have been several raids, a police spokesman said: ‘If you start moving a bee hive around and you don’t know what you are doing, you are going to get stung… lots and lots of times.’ 

The BBA said: ‘It is currently estimated that there are 250,000 managed colonies owned by beekeepers in England and Wales.

‘Only beekeepers are likely to have the contacts to sell on colonies, as these are not easily sold as one-offs to other than beekeepers.’ 

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