Declining bee populations are a grave environmental concern and an ongoing mystery, but this week over half a million bees dropped dead in Switzerland, and investigators say the bees were murdered on purpose.
According to The Local, two amateur beekeepers in Vaud, Switzerland, went by to check on their bees and discovered that all the bees in all 14 of their hives were dead. Each hive contained between 30,000 and 40,000 bees, so the total death rate was somewhere over 500,000 bees.
“Inside the hives was a layer of dead bees 10 centimetres deep,” they said. [related:1710]
A sudden die-off of bees like this could be caused by illness, but the couple’s bees were reportedly healthy. Regional beekeeping inspectors came by to look at the couple’s hives and said they suspected someone had poisoned the bees on purpose, possibly with a commercially available insecticide spray.
The beekeepers say they actually had something similar happen back in 2014. At the time they assumed they’d just made a mistake and accidentally killed their own bees, but this event has raised their suspicions and now they’re wondering if they might have a serial bee-killer in the neighborhood.
The couple does not yet know who might be responsible for the deaths of their bees, but they plan to file a criminal complaint for destruction of property.