honey bee threats predators

Vandals in the beeyard

When I asked for photos of your beehives, Brian Dennis of Northamptonshire, U.K. sent images of his beehives after they were trashed by vandals. Quite a few of you wanted to know “the whole story,” so I asked Brian to tell us the details. Here is his sad story:

When the farmer on whose land I kept my bees informed me that my hives had been knocked over, I went to assess the situation—I was hoping that the wind or animals had caused the problem. What I found is shown in the photos—human animals had toppled the hives using lengths of piping found on site; then they used stones from a nearby derelict barn to smash the hives and destroy the bees.

I spent several hours clearing the site and was able to re-hive two colonies (from ten) that were still alive on the ground. When I returned a week later, I found the attackers had been back to inflict further damage.

Although an isolated site, I could not (after twenty years) continue to keep bees on this site. One of the two colonies that I had re-hived decided they had had enough and left! I removed the remaining colony to another site (same farmer but a more secure site). In the process of being attacked and re-hived, the queen was lost. I added a frame of brood but eventually the colony died out. The farmer provided another site and I have expanded this to six colonies. So far, no problems! The farmer and his wife have become beekeepers and live nearby, so I am able to help as they learn.

I can understand (but not condone) children pushing hives over to see what happens—it happens. What I don’t understand is the pleasure they (not necessarily children) got from destroying my equipment and killing my bees. My bees and beekeeping give me great pleasure. The farmer’s comment was “I hope they got stung.” Unfortunately, it was early in the year and the bees were not active. This year the weather has been awful and my usually docile bees have been very bad tempered, so I wish they would try again! Now I understand why beekeepers often put their bad-tempered bees in out-apiaries!


Vandals toppled the hives by using lengths of pipe.

Next, they used stones to smash the hives and destroy the bees.

A week later the vandals came back to finish the job.

The last of the colonies died after the queen was lost in the shuffle.

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  • Brian, heart wrenching, I am sure. People – vandals and such – cease to amaze me. I hope karma exists! 🙂

  • I also doubt it was kids. Too purposeful and malicious. My guess – “yobs” if I have the term right. And stinging is waay too good for them.

    Brian, my heartfelt wishes for the prosperity and safety of your new beeyard.

    Corinth, KY

  • This made me so sad that I actually teared up a bit. 🙁 I cannot imagine what would make a person do this…especially to come back a second time. So many folks get such pleasure from seeing beehives and busy honeybees. I agree…too bad the bees were too groggy to defend themselves. If you find out who did it, they should have their honeybee benefits revoked. Think of all of the food that they couldn’t eat. He, he.

  • Very sad. I thought people in the U.K. were more civilized than we Americans; we see a lot of bad news on the tube here. But the vandalism you experienced is evidence that bad actors are well dispersed among us.

  • This person could always setup a hidden animal camera like hunters use, still. It’s beyond my understanding why a person would destroy someone’s property. This is a social issue that seems to be getting worse; rebellion, entitlement and disrespect are disturbingly common in teens nowadays, no thought to what this might make someone else feel like. Wanton destruction is worse, no cause, no protest, just smashed stuff . . . My sympathies.

    • This is a great idea! He should set up an empty/old hive back in the same area with a game camera and some police involvement.

  • I see kids in my neighbourhood smashing things to bits all the time. That’s the main reason I’ve never set up hives in the large field behind my house. The hives would be destroyed as soon as the kids saw them. By kids, I mean 13 to 17 years old, most of them from a low-income housing complex a few block away. I don’t mean to play on stereotypes, but I understand why these kids behave the way they do. They have miserable home lives. I see how their parents talk to them, and it’s not with kindness. Drinking in the field behind my house, lighting it on fire a couple times a year, smashing whatever they can kick or throw a rock at — that’s as good as it gets for many of them. The vandalism may seem deplorable, but it’s mostly sad when you think about it.

    Not that I wouldn’t want to swing a big stick at anyone I caught vandalizing my hives.

    I had one of my hives slightly vandalized on the farm where I keep them last weekend. For some reason my farmer friend didn’t tell me about it until today. Luckily only the top cover was torn off and the top super shifted a few inches. Some rain got in the hive, but the damage was minimal. If it happens again, I’ll have to move the hives to a safer location. What a pain in the neck that will be.

  • Wish I could send you a queen from our most powerful hive. We have used her offspring to set up many productive hives but you don’t go near them without full body armour. Our best producers but really hard to handle. Anyway, they would fix your little problem……..