Andy Duback / AP
Two children were accused of killing half a million bees after they allegedly vandalized a honey farm in Sioux City, Iowa, knocking down beehives and exposing bees to deadly winter temperatures.
The alleged vandals are 12 and 13 years old and their names are not disclosed due to their age.
Police announced on Wednesday that the children had been arrested. They have been charged with criminal malfeasance, offenses in agricultural animal facilities and robbery, all major crimes, according to The Sioux City Journal.
"They demolished all the hives, killing all the bees and completely annihilated us," Justin Engelhardt, owner of Wild Hill Honey with his wife Tori Engelhardt, told the newspaper last month when the vandalism occurred.
"They broke into our shed, took out all our equipment and threw it in the snow, destroyed what it could," he said, calling the crime "completely foolish."
After the incident, a friend of the Engelhardts started a page of GoFundMe that has raised more than $ 30,000 in donations, approximately half of what the couple says they will need to restart their business.
"It was incredible and we are deeply grateful for all the contributions of the people of Sioux City and people from all over the country," said Engl. Ehardt said. "It's thanks to those contributions that we can rebuild in the spring, we've already made arrangements to get some hives in the south and raise them in the spring and we'll be back where they were."
Although the charges could result in fines of up to $ 10,000 and 10 years in jail, it is likely that the case will be adjudicated in a juvenile court.
The charge for agricultural animal facilities has been on the books in Iowa since 1991 and Woodbury County assistant attorney Mark Campbell was quoted by Journal as saying he could not recall a single case in his jurisdiction where I had been persecuted at some time.
The death of pollinating bees in recent years has caused concern among scientists. As NPR reported last year, "researchers have been quick to discover what is killing bees, and have identified some factors, including pesticides intended to kill insects, reduced forage plants, mites and other diseases."