Thousands of bees have been burned to death after a collection of hives were attacked. Bee keepers discovered a scene of utter devastation when they went to check on their insects in woods close to Hopwood Hall College in Middleton.
One hive, which contained thousands of bees, had been torched while another 12 had been ripped out and tossed into a nearby valley.
Bee keepers Jack Turner and Peter Killcommons say they have lost thousands of bees. The pair scooped up any living bees and attempted to patch up the surviving hives after the attack, which took place over New Year.
The fate of thousands of worker bees – which became the city’s symbol of defiance in the wake of last year’s terror attack – is dependent on the queen bee, but the pair do not yet know if she has survived.
Without a queen, the worker bees may just abandon the hive.
Jack said: “There has to be something wrong with a person who sets a bee hive alight. “The amount of damage is unbelievable and we’ve lost a good few thousand bees.
“We’ve been picking the bees up and putting them in the hives. We just hope we’ve got the queen. “The alternative if there’s no queen is for the workers to make a new queen, but it’s too cold for them to do that.”
Peter works closely with Hopwood Hall College teaching bee keeping skills to agriculture students at the college. The bees’ honey is also sold in the campus restaurant.
A spokesman for the college said: “Everybody at Hopwood Hall College is really disappointed to hear what has happened to Peter’s bee hives, he has been an enormous help at the college.
“After we had an outburst of bee infestations in many of our Middleton campus’ buildings, Peter very generously offered to help solve the problem humanely by moving the bees into hives.
“Since then, Peter has helped educate staff and students on bee keeping and the benefits they bring to our environment. “We’re now looking to help Peter rebuild his bee hives in any way we can.”