More than 500,000 bees killed by vandals in Texas

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ALVIN, Texas (KAKE) -

More than half a million bees were killed during a weekend break-in at a pasture in south Texas.

KTRK reports about 20 hives were torn apart or burned, and others were thrown into a lake. The loss of bees has consequences for backyard gardeners and agricultural farms in the Alvin area.

Steve Brackmann sells beekeeping supplies and queen bees. He said, "We're looking at 500,000 to 600,000 that have been destroyed out of that environment."

The hives belong to members of the Brazoria County Beekeepers Association. They found the remains of what had been 24 colonies at the site Saturday morning. Alvin police are investigating. 

"It takes a long time to establish a colony," Brackmann said. "It can take a year to get a full one, but the queens were probably killed, which means those that survived have nowhere to go." 

One comment on Facebook referred to it as ecoterrorism, and Brackmann doesn't disagree with that. Bee populations are dropping rapidly across the country because of insecticides and herbicides which take away the plants on which bees forage. 

"Tomatoes, squash, watermelons, bees pollinate those," Brackmann said. "So if bees don't pollinate those, you get zero vegetables, we would see next to nothing in the vegetable stores." 

The loss also happened as the honey season is just getting underway. One member lost all the honey he expected to sell at farmers markets this summer.