A sticky situation: $20,000 worth of bees, equipment stolen
Bill and Candy Vinduska’s custom-built trailer holding 18 active beehives was sitting outside of a sunflower field near the Marion/Harvey county line to help pollinate the crop when it was stolen between noon and 4 p.m. Thursday.
The Vinduskas, who have been beekeeping for about 20 years, said they are confident their bees, equipment, and trailer worth a combined value of $20,000 was not stolen by another beekeeper, but rather a thief from an urban area.
“A beekeeper would not do that,” Bill Vinduska said. “This is some man from down in Wichita that just wanted the trailer, not the bees. He destroyed them.”
He believes this because he and his wife followed a trail of scattered hives and broken bee boxes from where they were stolen near 140th and Nighthawk Rds. for almost 20 miles before they gave up when it got dark that Thursday night. The trail of equipment went through dirt roads and ditches.
“The thief was headed south on Mustang Rd. and crossed over Highway 50 into Butler County,” Candy Vinduska said. “We lost their trail around Elbing.”
Since then, bee equipment also has been found all the way up in northern Wichita.
“A person collected a lot of our equipment on north Rock Rd. (in Wichita),” Candy Vinduska said.
It is likely most of the bees and hives cannot be saved.
“The hives get scared when their equipment is bustled up,” Bill Vinduska said.
Some of the bee boxes and honey frames will be reusable, but most were broken.
“The boxes that we found still had a few bees, brood, and honey, but probably not enough to salvage as a complete hive,” Candy Vinduska said. The brood, or egg of the honeybees, likely will not survive from being bounced around and chilled, and queens may have been lost or smashed, she said.
While many of their bees were found dead or dying on the sides of roads, some were found alive. However, the Vinduskas still may not be able to save them.
“You just can’t put bees from different hives together,” she said. “They will fight as they are loyal to their queen. We will take the time to go through the bees that we have left, find the queens, and make colonies that will be strong enough to survive the winter.”
The frames of honey also cannot be salvaged to sell as bottled honey because gravel and dirt stuck to them.
“This happened at a bad time for us,” she said. “Not that there would have been a good time, but we were bottling our honey getting for the Renaissance Fair in Wichita.”
Despite the loss, Candy Vinduska said they are not selling out, and they are confident they will recover from the loss.
Both Bill and Candy Vinduska will still be presenting at the Bee Fest in Newton on Saturday, covering topics including a beekeeper’s first year, types of beekeeping, and why bee nutrition is important.
“We are so humbled for the concern shown by so many people from all over,” Candy Vinduska said. “The destruction of our bees is just terrible along with the financial loss of the trailer, bee equipment, bees, and honey crop. We would like to thank everyone who shared our posts and those who messaged us telling where we could find some of the hive parts.”
The Vinduskas are asking for anyone who sees the trailer or who has information to contact law enforcement. The trailer is green with four wheels and four leveling jacks.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2017