KZN beekeeper lays off staff, mulls closing his business after criminals destroy hives
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DURBAN - A HOWICK commercial beekeeper says he may have to consider shutting down his business after several of his beehives were destroyed and his bees were killed last week.
He estimated that the damage amounted to about R600 000.
Beekeeper Craig Campbell said that the incident took place on Tuesday night at his farm in New Hanover.
Speaking to The Mercury yesterday, he said that when he arrived at the farm the next day he found that 350 hives had been damaged. Of those, more than 235 beehives had been completely destroyed, with thousands of bees killed.
He said the rest of the hives could not be accounted for and he therefore believed that they had been stolen by the criminals.
According to Campbell, this was not the first time that his bee hives had been targeted, but he said last week’s incident had had a severe impact on him.
He said he hoped the police would be able to catch the perpetrators, and that there were allegations that the incident was due to a salary dispute between him and the workers but that this was not true, and that he had talked to the workers and all issues had been resolved.
“This was just clear sabotage of myself and the business. This type of incident has also happened to other beekeepers in the area, which is why we think it’s the same people. It’s a very sad thing where you find people who are just trying to make a living being targeted by criminals,” he said.
According to Campbell, his farm dealt with the bulk supply of honey to other farms that packaged and sold it to retailers.
Campbell, who employs nine people, said he was now left with no choice but to lay off some of the workers.
“It’s so sad that my guys have to suffer because of this, but, sadly, I won’t have money to pay them. I am very devastated, angry and shattered by this incident. It’s a lot of hard work that we do on this farm, and it’s all gone. The fact that they also killed the bees is wrong on so many levels.
“I do not mind if someone takes honey off my hives, but when they destroy everything and kill the bees, it’s wrong. I am at the point where I feel like I must just pack up and go because I can’t carry on like this,” he said.
He said many farmers nationally were experiencing the same problem.
KwaZulu-Natal police confirmed the incident and said a case of malicious damage to property had been opened at the New Hanover police station.