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Beekeeper stung by vandals.

POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2009 - 7:59pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 - 12:01pm

DELRAY BEACH, FL - The McCoy family of Delray Beach, Florida has been in the bee business for about 20 years, but they've never been stung quite like this.

A couple of weeks ago, dozens of their bee hives were intentionally destroyed.

The wooden crates were trampled, trashed and thrown in a suburban Boynton Beach canal.

Thousands of healthy bees were killed.

"Not just one or two hives, no. The whole yard gone through. They went through just about every hive and tipped it over," said a frustrated Mark McCoy, Jr.

McCoy thinks whoever wreaked havoc on his hives knew exactly what they were doing.

Perhaps it was a disgruntled former employee, or competitor wearing protective clothing, he speculates, because a petty prankster would have been severely attacked.

"It wasn't just someone being reckless," said McCoy, "It was someone out to do some damage, you know?"

The McCoys, who own Sunny South Apiaries in Loxahatchee, aren't the only ones who have a stake in finding out who did this.

We all do, they say, because chances are one in three that whatever you ate for breakfast lunch or dinner today, a bee had something to do with it.

"A lot of the vegetables we have won't grow correctly without them," says Jeff Capella, whose family operates a nearby farm.

The Capellas, like all growers, sell fruit and vegetables that rely on the bees' pollination.

The insects' population is already suffering from the mysterious so-called colony collapse disorder.

"People don't really think what the bees can do for us," he said, "It's a tragedy, really."

The McCoys are already working to repopulate their hives, bringing in queen bees all the way from Australia to start new colonies.

But the vandalism, they say, cost them big money.

They're offering a $1,000 dollar reward for information leading to an arrest.

The family says they often get close to $200 per hive when they sell their bees, but often they'll rent them to growers who need their crops pollinated for about $150 apiece.

The colonies destroyed, they say, could have brought in more than $20,000.

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