Vandals destroy bee colonies

July 6, 2013 2:19:21 PM PDT
A Fresno County man is struggling to save his livelihood after vandals destroyed more than 80 of his bee colonies.

That bee keeper says he's potentially out $100,000. The owner of BZ Bodies says it will cost at least thousands of dollars just to replace the boxes those colonies lived in. And based on damage and tracks left at the scene that bee keeper says someone ran the colonies over. Home video shows the destruction Max Nikolaychuk found when he went to tend to his bee colonies.

"It's a pretty bad setback," Nikolaychuk said. "Most of these colonies are about a year old. So they were pretty fresh."

Each colony he says can last for an average of three years, potentially earning him a hundred thousand dollars between honey production and almond pollination.

"It was pretty devastating because that's about like $25,000 in only equipment that I have here," Nikolaychuk said. "Plus, if you rent the bees out, that's your income. If you harvest the honey, that's your income."

That is income Nikolychuk relies on. When the recession hit a few years ago he lost his construction job. Turning to the family career bees became his business.

Now instead of helping his colonies expand and produce honey Nikolaychuk is looking for what survived the vandal's attack. Based on the damage he someone likely used a pick-up truck to ruin his bee colonies.

"Most of them were overturned," Nikolaychuk said. "You can see we piled up the boxes right here. They were crushed."

The destroyed comb and honey are spilled all over the dirt. Nikolaychuk says that needs to be cleaned up so ants won't infest the surviving colonies. His other task to ensure bee survival includes finding or replacing the queens.

"If there's no queen what happens is the colony will die off. The queen is the one thing that makes the colony grow and proceed," Nikolaychuk said. "There's order in colony. If there's no queen the bees don't go out and collect nectar. They just sit around and do nothing."

The hundred or so colonies in this apiary represent 14 percent of BZ Bodies property. The damage has this small business owner rushing to recover. Insurance should help cover some of the losses. Nikolychuk is just hoping anyone who may know what happened to his bees will call the Fresno County Sheriff's Department.


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