SF farm stung by bee massacre 

Murder has struck the Hayes Valley Farm.

Nearly 200,000 European honeybees were slaughtered earlier this week when an unknown person broke into the community farm and sprayed two hives with a household pesticide. A third hive was spared from total annihilation after about 40 percent of its inhabitants survived the attack.

There’s no suspect, but beekeeper Karen Peteros said the farm received one known complaint since it began operating six months ago. The bees arrived at the end of May.

The honeybees were used to pollinate the gardens at the Hayes Valley Farm, which is temporarily occupying a vacant lot on Laguna Street between Oak and Fell streets, which was once the entrance and exit to the Central Freeway.

The poison was sprayed directly into nickel-size holes at several locations on the bright-green and yellow boxes that house the
two hives.

Peteros said the bees that were directly hit by the spray died immediately. Others tried to escape but collapsed and died in the exit, trapping thousands of remaining bees.

“It essentially became a gas chamber,” Peteros said.

A few remaining bees flew slowly around the hive Thursday, and Peteros said they wouldn’t live much longer because of exposure to the poison.

Damage is estimated at $3,000, but a price tag could not be put on the year’s worth of work to create the honeycomb.

At least one queen bee was killed in the massacre. The honey they created was contaminated and the box it was housed in will need to be thoroughly cleaned and aired out for the next year.

Police Officer Albie Esparza said an investigation into the felony vandalism is ongoing. He said there were no witnesses to the crime and the suspect most likely jumped the chain-link fence that borders the property.

Jay Rosenberg, co-director of the farm, said he cannot fathom someone having such a major problem with honeybees.

“It’s like removing a third of your food off a plate, because honeybees have so much to do with where food comes from,” he said.

Volunteer Lindsey Goldberg was practically in tears when she saw the thousands of dead honeybees.

“Who would do this?” she said. “To think that someone felt so threatened by the hives that they wanted to come and kill them is beyond me.”

Peteros said she plans to bring more hives to the farm, but not before surveillance cameras are installed.

“I’m not deterred,” she said. “We’ll just make sure we do it the right way and if that person comes back we catch them next time.”

akoskey@sfexaminer.com

 

Wiped out


Someone purposefully killed hundreds of thousands of honeybees in a community farm.

200,000: European honeybees killed
60,000-100,000: Bees per hive
3: Hives almost completely destroyed
$1,000: Cost of damage per hive
1: Year’s worth of work by the bees

Source: San Francisco Bee-Cause

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