Jack Gray, 13, (in protective clothing) and his 99-year-old great-grandfather Alan Graham install a bee hive in the boy’s Rossland backyard two weeks ago. Photo courtesy Graham family

Jack Gray, 13, (in protective clothing) and his 99-year-old great-grandfather Alan Graham install a bee hive in the boy’s Rossland backyard two weeks ago. Photo courtesy Graham family

B.C. teen heartbroken after thieves poison his beehive

Mom says she can’t understand why someone would kill bees for no apparent reason

A Rossland family says it’s devastated after someone broke into their yard and poisoned a beehive in what looks like a wanton act of cruelty.

Alicia Graham says the family came home after being away last weekend to find thousands of dead bees scattered around their back yard.

“My daughter went out on the deck, and said ‘Why are there honey bees dead on the deck?’” she told the Rossland News. “‘And why are there honey bees dead all over?’

“And on the front entrance of the hive, it looked like it was a pile of black rocks. They had massed into a ball.”

Checking around their home, Graham says it looked like someone had broken into their property to steal from them, and came across a can of industrial-strength insecticide. She says it looks like they then went deliberately over to the beehive to kill the bees.

“There was a hole punched in the front of the hive. They kicked it or swung something at it, so that the hive was askew on its palette,” she says. “And then they didn’t take the cover off, but they sprayed inside and all around.”

Family of beekeepers

But the bees meant so much more to the family than just a fun hobby.

The Grahams are fifth-generation beekeepers. Graham’s son Jack Gray showed the same love for bees that his ancestors have, and the hive was a gift to him from his 99-year-old great-grandfather, who used to run an apiary.

“Jack’s been obsessed with bees for so long, this year, after two years of asking, he turned 13 and his great-grandfather drove a hive out from Alberta,” says Graham. “He brought the nuc [nuclear colony, the ‘seed’ for a beehive] here from Grand Forks.”

Jack’s great-grandfather helped the youth set up the hive in the family’s backyard only two weeks ago.

She says she had the support of her neighbours to install the hive — there are other beehives in the neighbourhood — and thinks this was a random act of cruelty by the people who broke into her property.

“They found heavy-duty wasp spray,” she says. “They were in there for something else, and then saw the spray, and decided that’s what they wanted to do with it.”

Now Graham says she doesn’t know what will become of the hive.

While several thousand bees survived the attack, including the queen, it’s not known how much of the hive itself has been contaminated by the poison.

She said on Monday the bees are starting to fly in and out of the hive again, but they are flying “wonky.”

“A lot of them are still dying, but they’re not dying and turning black,” she says. “But they are landing on the ground and I can’t get the poison off the ground.”

Certainly this year’s honey production will have to be thrown out, and the fate of the colony is in the air.

The vandals took pains to ensure the biggest possible mess, as the entire backyard is contaminated now, she says.

“When I went back there, I could immediately smell it,” she says. There’s a hundred feet of our backyard that they have just doused in poison. We can’t have the kids back there. We can’t have the dogs back there. Our yard is unusable.

“I started shouting, ‘somebody did this, somebody poisoned them.’”

The worst part is her son’s reaction to the attack.

“He’s devastated, he’s beside himself,” he says. “Now he’s kind of resigned to the fact that they are all going to die, or that they’ll be genetically not well-off.

“When he saw them writhing, he was hysterical. He can’t stand to see them in pain. He was panicked. That’s the hardest thing, looking at his face.”

She says Jack slept downstairs Sunday night to see if anyone was coming in the backyard.

Graham says they’re not sure they can afford to replace the bees or the hive — between the gift of the hive, and the bees, it’s over $1,000 — so it’s not certain yet what will happen.

Neighbours have offered to rebuild part of the hive, so the bees won’t be tracking more poison into the colony.

But she knows what to think of the people who did it.

“They’re just awful, malicious persons,” she says. “They kicked the hive, sprayed it, and stole from us.”

“I don’t get it, there’s nothing I get about this.”

Since Graham told her story on social media, the family’s received an outpouring of support and offers to help. She says she’s grateful for the community’s response.

Jack’s great grandfather, back in Lethbridge, still hasn’t been told of the crime.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Alicia Graham says her son Jack was devastated by an attack on his beehive. Photo courtesy Graham family

Alicia Graham says her son Jack was devastated by an attack on his beehive. Photo courtesy Graham family

Just Posted

Dreamfish are hung on the fence at Annunication School in Prince Rupert on April 17 as part of the Stream of Dream eco-education program teaching about local watersheds and salmon habitats. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Stream of Dreams fish swim the fence at Prince Rupert School

Students at Annunciation school learned about watershed protection and salmon habitat

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson outlines the province’s three-year budget in Victoria, April 20, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C. deficit to grow by $19 billion for COVID-19 recovery spending

Pandemic-year deficit $5 billion lower than forecast

BC CDC mapping for the week ending April 4, shows a sharp decrease in COVID-19 cases to 27 in Prince Rupert down 45 from the week prior. (Image: BCCDC)
Sharp decline in Prince Rupert COVID-19 cases

Prince Rupert lab-confirmed cases are down 62.5 per cent in one week

Blair Mirau, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society CEO, is seen in a hydroponic greenhouse the society purchased in 2020 to promote food stability and local supply. (Photo: supplied)
Three P.R. organizations partner to develop food distribution network

$167,000 grant awarded to GSN, PRDCC and Ecotrust Canada to strengthen food supply chains

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Bandstra Transportation photo)
Smithers family-owned business institution sold to publicly-traded company

Bandstra Transportation and Babine Trucking acquired by Mullen Group

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read