A reward is being offered to find the suspects responsible for killing more than half a million bees in Texas by tearing apart beehives and setting them on fire.
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A deputy from the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office found several burning bee boxes at the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association in Angleton, Texas, early Saturday, authorities said. The deputy extinguished the fire, but several thousands of dollars in damage had already been done, according to the sheriff's office.
The bee boxes were dumped over before they were set on fire, according to the association. The yard that was vandalized was a place for those who practice beekeeping as a hobby, and people who pass by are able to view the bees and the beekeepers as they care for them.
"The intention of this yard was to help hobby beekeepers, and also to raise community awareness of beekeeping," the association wrote in a Facebook post.
Beekeepers "broke down in tears" when they saw a floating brood frame in the water with bees still caring for the brood, according to the association.
Authorities posted several pictures showing the charred beehives littering the ground of the bee yard.
Steve Brackmann, owner of Bear Creek Bee Recovery, told ABC Houston station KTRK that it takes a long time to establish a colony -- up to a year for a full one -- and that the queens were probably killed.
About 20 bee hives and 24 colonies were destroyed just as honey season in the area is kicking off, KTRK reported. Between 500,000 and 600,000 bees were killed, Brackmann said.
A $5,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the vandalism, authorities said. More than $12,000 has been raised to rebuild the colonies.