UNIONTOWN, Ohio — A newly released photo from the Stark County Beekeeper’s Association shows what appears to be a man vandalizing an apiary in Uniontown on Nov. 19, according to a Facebook post from the association.
Laurene Kiel, the president of the Stark County Beekeepers' Association, said losing a hive, is similar to losing a pet.
"Especially if you’re a small beekeeper and you have one or two hives. You’ve invested a fair amount of money and time into your passion, so it’s rather upsetting," she said.
The photo from a surveillance camera shows a hive on fire. It’s the fourth vandalism incident of an apiary in Stark County documented by the Stark County apiary inspector.
"Usually the vandalism, sometimes it’s young kids just out on a lark, but often times, it’s disgruntled neighbors who will use pesticide or insecticide and kill the bees with a wasp spray or hornet spray," Kiel said. "But this is the first incident that we’ve had reported in Stark County where it’s actually captured by somebody trying to set a hive on fire."
Kiel said typically a hive can have anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 bees in it. The Uniontown beekeeper won't know the amount of damage the fire caused until the bees reemerge in the spring.
"There are bees still alive in it but we don’t know if that hive will survive the winter based on what was done to it," Kiel said.
Kiel hopes the person responsible is caught, but at the very least, it brings some awareness to beekeeping and honeybees.
"We try and breed our bees for gentleness," she said. "Honeybees are taken into blueberry fields, into cranberry fields, into fruit trees, to bring all that goodness that we get to see in that supermarket," she said.
A security camera photo shows that the man appears to be armed. The Stark County Beekeeper’s Association said police and the hive owner approved the release of the image to the public.