Gastonia farmer’s beehives busted, crops slashed by vandals

North Carolina

GASTONIA, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — A local bee farmer is cleaning up after some vandals busted all his hives, essentially killing every single bee.

Tom Parnelle has a small plot of land with crops and 15 beehives. It’s always locked when he’s not here, but he thinks someone cut a fence in the back, and for whatever reason, toppled all the beehives.

“Come out here all the time checking on the crops, checking on the bees. Noticed all the hives were pushed down,” Parnelle said.

Whoever did this might not think it’s a big deal, but it’s actually devastating. The queen bees died, and as a result, the rest of the bees will die too. He estimates that the population was something like 225,000.

“The big thing is, I’m going to lose all my honey for this year,” Parnelle said.

Today, the bees that remain alive were scrambling to dig their way back into the hive to stay warm, but there’s no use. They won’t survive.

“We think it was just teenagers, mischief. They didn’t take anything, steal anything, they didn’t break into the shed. They just went over kind of just like in the olden days cow tipping.”

But it’s not just about the bees. The vandals also slashed and uprooted Parnelle’s crops.

“Cut the tops off. Well, that pretty much kills that plant,” he said.

Parnelle has another job, but he earmarks the revenue from the honey he sells for something special.

“I use the income to do vacations with my family. My family’s all grown and so we like to spend one, take the money that the farm owes and we do something like go over to the opera or go over to the Broadway show,” Parnelle said.

Now, he’ll have to put his hobby of helping the bee population grow on hold.

“Even keeping bees is very difficult these days.”

It takes about a year to generate enough honey to sell, and maintain the hive, so it’s going to be a while before he can get things back up and running. That can cost Parnelle $1,500 to $3,000.

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