A honeymaker in Sioux City, Iowa, woke up on Thursday morning to find his bee colony devastated, after still-unidentified vandals ran amok on his farm, turning over beehives and smashing frames, tragically killing the entire 500,000-bee colony in freezing winter conditions.
Friends, family, neighbors and others in the local midwest US region, alongside a sizeable helping of online visitors, quickly donated to a GoFundMe site set up to reestablish the colony, which had seen every structure of the entire hive smashed to smithereens, and the 500,000 bees exposed to bitter cold, which killed them.
"Holy smokes," farm owner Josh Englehardt was quoted as saying by the Sioux City Journal after learning of the support.
"That is amazing," he said, adding, "We are really, really grateful for all the support."
Police continue to investigate the crime and pursue leads, while the family expressed their deep appreciation for the outpouring of community support, including those who have flooded their phones with calls and texts, and are donating to online GoFundMe accounts established to bring the business, and the bees, back.
A Sioux City resident named Todd LaCroix set up the first and largest account, after gaining the tacit approval of the farm's owners, who had previously observed that the damage was insurmountable and that the family business would have to close as they would not be able to get more bees.
"Tori and Justin are wonderful people who have just suffered a terrible loss," LaCroix wrote.
"The destruction of their bees and equipment is not only a financial hardship but has taken an emotional toll as well," he said, adding that any help would be appreciated, particularly as insurance does not cover vandalism.
Two additional GoFundMe accounts were also set up in the name of the Wild Hill farm and quickly brought the grand total to $31,200 in less than 24 hours.
"We'll keep it going," Englehardt said, adding that "[The donors] will keep us going, actually."