South Tyneside beekeeper Steve Cattanach is buzzing – after an online fundraising appeal to replace his vandalised hives smashed its cash target.
Supporters have raised over £3,100 – almost 16 times the aimed for amount – to get him back in business with the hobby he loves.
Steve, 60, from South Shields, was left to pick up the pieces after yobs broke into his enclosure at Carr Ellison Park in Jarrow and damaged his four hives - killing 100,000 bees.
Two were totally destroyed in the brick and wood objects attack, one is feared beyond repair and another, partially pushed over, has been repaired.
Grandfather Steve, who gives expert bee demonstrations and talks in schools, has now told of his delight at the backing he has received online.
He plans to use the money – he had hoped to raise just £200 through the JustGiving crowdfunding page - to replace the two worst hit hives and fund other elements of his work.
This will include buying new protective suits for schoolchildren to wear during his lectures and the certificates they receive for taking part and becoming ‘honourary beekeepers’.
Steve said: “More than enough money has been raised to get me back to where I was. I’m very grateful to all who have contributed – I can’t thank them enough.
“I had no idea there would be so much support for me, the money will be put to very good use. I can’t believe how nice everyone has been and how much goodwill there is around, except of course for the people who damaged the hives.
“It’s nice to know that the good outweighs the bad. It’s fantastic, I’m overwhelmed.”
Those responsible scaled a 9ft-high metal security fence to access the part of the park where he has kept hives, containing over 120,000 bees, for the past year.
Steve, who has his own joinery business, developed a passion for bees over decade ago and has visited borough schools on educational missions for seven years.
He plans to spend around £1,200 on two new hives and extra on bees to populate them, which could take around two months.