Two boys were charged with killing more than a half million bees at a honey business in Iowa last month.
"All of the beehives on the honey farm were destroyed and approximately 500,000 bees perished in the frigid temperatures," Sioux City police said in a release.
The suspects, a 12 and 13 year old, allegedly destroyed 50 hives at the Wild Hill Honey in Sioux City. The juveniles have been charged with criminal mischief, agricultural animal facilities offenses and burglary. Their names will not be released due to their age.
The felonies could result in fines as much as $10,000 and up to 10 years in jail, but criminal cases involving minors are typically adjudicated in juvenile court.
Wild Hill Honey owners Justin and Tori Englehardt called it a "senseless" act."
"They knocked over every single hive, killing all the bees. They wiped us out completely," Justin Engelhardt told the Sioux City Journal after the incident.
"They broke into our shed, they took all our equipment out and threw it out in the snow, smashed what they could. Doesn't look like anything was stolen, everything was just vandalized or destroyed."
"Bees are critical, and people are conscious of the fact that bees are having a hard time right now and facing some real challenges," Englehardt said.
A report from the Center for Biological Diversity last year found that more than North American bee 700 species are in trouble from a range of serious threats, including severe habitat loss and escalating pesticide use.
Bees are a precious natural resource—an estimated 35 percent of food production is dependent on pollination from the insects.
The Englehardt's losses were estimated between $50,000 to $60,000. The damage was not covered by insurance.
A fundraising campaign has raised thousands of dollars for the recovery. More than $30,000 has already been donated.
"Thank you to everyone for your generous contributions and your amazing show of support," a message from the Wild Hill owners states. "Because of you, we will be able to continue our business in the spring. We are deeply moved by your compassion. Between the contributions and the equipment we were able to salvage, our needs have been met. There are so many great causes to support. Our wish is that this spirit of compassion will be used to help others now. Thank you."