Sections of honeybee hives are strewn around the ground after someone vandalized them at Swan's Honey in Albion over the weekend. Credit: Courtesy of Swan's Honey

Vandals caused $5,000 damage over the weekend after destroying a number of beehives at Swan’s Honey in Albion.

In photos posted on social media, tire tracks are clearly visible where a vehicle drove through the hives. The grassy area is strewn with pieces of hives, some with honey bees clinging to them.

The damage was discovered when workers went out to inspect the hives that had been placed on wooden pallets, according to a spokesperson for Swan’s. Each pallet held four hives and each hive housed between 50,000 and 60,000 bees.

“You can do the math,” the spokesperson said. “That is a lot of bees.”

Given the presence of the tire tracks and the lack of scratches on the hives, the damage was caused by a person and not a bear in search of honey.

“This was vandalism,” the company said in a Facebook post. “There were no signs of bear damage like scratches, bite marks or signs that they were trying to get into the brood chamber of the hive — the hives were hit by a vehicle or ATV and scattered.”

If it was someone on an ATV, the company spokesperson theorized they likely received a number of stings from bees trying to protect the hives.

Those particular hives are used in the company’s educational programs teaching beekeeping and for research on honey production and bee health.

“Today is a sad day for us,” Swan’s said. “This would be a sad thing to see happen anywhere, but it hurts a little more when it is right in our own home town with our own bees.”

The incident has been reported to law enforcement, and the company plans to salvage whatever can be saved from the damaged hives.

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.