AN EXPERT apiarist who bred a one-of-a-kind honeybee said a blaze that did an estimated £30,000-worth of damage has made him wonder if he “should even bother anymore”.

Arsonists are suspected of setting the fire that destroyed sheds, greenhouses and equipment belonging to the Swindon Honeybee Conservation Group on Monday night.

The scene that greeted members of the bee group on Tuesday morning at Stanton Country Park, where they keep their hives, was one of devastation.

Ron Hoskins, who has spent more than two decades breeding a “super-bee” variety capable of protecting itself from the deadly varroa mite, said: “All the gear I used to create that bee – and after 24 years doing it – that’s all gone.

“To try to replace it is going to be upwards of £30,000.

“I’ll be 89 in April and I don’t know if I should even bother anymore.

“They pushed the hives over. I’m hoping they got stung.”

He said the arsonists had destroyed two sheds and a greenhouse containing, among other things, protective suits used by the group on its training courses. They had also taken a new lawnmower and added it to the blaze.

“It’s obvious they were encouraging it. There’s nothing left,” Ron said.

“There’s just nothing we can recover. We don’t know who did it, but we were told by somebody who was walking past there late on Monday afternoon. They said there was a number of youths who were hanging around not too far from our apiaries.”

He asked parents to come forward if they suspected their children had a hand in setting the blaze. “These boys, whoever they are, must have smelled of smoke. The amount of damage that’s been caused – that was one devil of a fire.

“They must have been covered in ash. They couldn’t have come away from that without signs of what they had been doing.”

A Wiltshire Police spokeswoman said: “We were called to the scene by the fire service at 12.45pm on Tuesday,

“Thankfully nobody was injured, but unfortunately damage was caused to sheds and a greenhouse at a beekeeping site.

“At this stage we believe the fire was started deliberately and would ask anyone with information to call us on 101.”

Any donations to help cover the cost of replacing lost equipment should be made to the Swindon Honeybee Conservation Group. Their website is: