Some 1.5 million bees have been killed in a suspected arson attack on an apiary in Gozo.
The attack saw 28 hives owned by bee exporters Melita Bees Ltd burned after an unknown individual placed a tyre under the hives and set it on fire.
In a statement, Melita Bees said the damage amounted to €10,220, with a further €7,500 in lost production for the next year.
“To this we should add the biological, existential and moral damage because episodes like this leave an indelible mark,” owner Ermanno De Chino said.
“I love bees and I have dedicated my life to them and seeing them exterminated in this way really hurts.”
De Chino pointed out that this wasn’t the first time his apiary had been targeted. It had suffered a similar attack in 2016, which led to the death of 250,000 bees.
“By now everyone knows how important bees are for our survival: over 80% of the food we grow requires pollination by bees.”
Melita Bees specialises in the breeding of queen bees for exportation to European and Canadian beekeepers.
“Abroad we are respected and appreciated, and Malta should be proud to host a company that helps many beekeepers to overcome difficult times,” De Chino added.
“Instead, here in Malta, thanks to a disinformation campaign promoted by some jealous beekeepers, we are looked upon with hatred and suspicion.”
Maltese beekeepers have been importing bees for over 20 years to reconstitute the bee heritage lost in 1993 with the arrival of the varroa mite, but the responsibility for the ‘disappearance’ of the native Maltese bee (Apis Mellifera Ruttneri) is attributed to us, De Chino said.
De Chino said he had repeatedly offered to collaborate in the protection and reproduction of the Maltese bee but his offers had been completely ignored.
He expressed his hope that local authorities would identify the person behind the attack, while appealing to the public to help the company find land to carry out the breeding in.
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