A Florida beekeeper is offering a $30,000 reward after he claims someone poisoned his honeybees and killed nearly 7 million of them, the Daytona News-Journal reports.
Horace Bell told the newspaper that he went to his apiary near DeLand on Sunday, only to find dead bees all around his feet. He said he believes someone who may not have been a fan of the bees poisoned them, and he's now offering a reward for information leading to the culprit's arrest.
"That's a lot of money, but they're costing me a lot of money," he said of the reward.
An inspector from the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Service visited the property on Monday, but a report has yet to be released. Still, Bell said he believes the bees were poisoned because he has seen a number of them behave unusually — many of them, for example, have been writhing on the ground.
"They're listless," he said. "We know what the hell is going on, we got some experience."
Bell, who has about 20,000 hives throughout Florida, said he's also observed several undertaker bees working harder than normal to remove dead or dying honeybees away from the hives.
According to the Bee Informed Partnership, a research organization that tracks the decline of honeybees, other factors besides poisoning have contributed to the loss of honeybee colonies. Those causes include loss of habitat, mites, lack of diverse crops and poor management.
Often serving as pollinators, honeybees are critical to agricultural production. Managed honeybee colonies add "at least $15 billion a year by increasing yields and helping to ensure superior-quality harvests," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.