A yob who was stung trying to steal honey from a beehive launched a revenge attack and PETROL BOMBED the hive – killing 54,000 bees.
The 17-year-old ran away howling after being stung on the hand as he tried to pinch some honey.
He returned later with five friends and a plastic bottle filled with petrol, which he set alight and lobbed at the hive.
It burst into flames, killing around a third of the bees which the owners had spent three years building up.
On Wednesday the youth, who cannot be named, was found guilty of one count of arson following a two-day trial at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court in Devon.
The hive was set up in the grounds of Kingskerswell Parish Church near Newton Abbot in 2007.
It was funded by the Kingskerswell Manor House Trust and produced honey which was sold locally to raise money for the charity which maintains the historic site.
Trust spokeswoman Wendy Coombes said: ”I find it incredible that someone would do such a thing.
”I cannot understand the mentality of someone who would set fire to a bee hive, which a lot of time and effort was put in to.
”We set it up three years ago as a nucleus and steadily watched it grow. Last year was the third year and was to be the first time they were going to produce a significant amount of honey.
”But that will never happen now.
”I haven’t decided whether I am to create another yet. I’m still coming to terms with having lost the last one.”
The court heard the youth was seen lobbing stones at the hive in the days leading up to the attack on June 1 last year.
Passers-by Christine Tucker and Anthony Johnson saw the youths, who they recognised, fleeing the scene and called police.
Three youths appeared in court on Wednesday charged with arson but the charges were dropped against two of them.
But a third was found guilty of arson by destroying by fire a beehive worth £480 on June 1.
Giving evidence, one of his pals said: ”It went up really quickly.
”When I saw this I felt shocked. I did not think he was actually going to do it.”
Another told the court: ”I thought he would lob some stones at it and did not realise he would hit it with a petrol bomb.”
The court heard the youth was a regular cannabis smoker who had been smoking on the day of the arson and had previously been seen throwing rocks at the hive.
The case was adjourned for sentencing to a date to be set.