Though animal cruelty is an unfortunate reality, assaults on bees rarely show up in the news. But that changed this week, when two men were spotted attacking the hives of rare British black bees at England’s Wisbech Castle.

According to the BBC, the as-yet-unidentified men trespassed on the castle grounds in Cambridgeshire on January 8. The men removed the covers of the hives and proceeded to poke the bees with sticks. It’s possible they were stung in the process and returned to damage the hives further, though it's more likely the bees, which were dormant, were in no condition to defend themselves.

The bees, known as Apis mellifera mellifera, were being housed at Wisbech in an effort to boost their population after nearly dying out in 2012. The incident may have killed as many as 10,000 of the bees, though officials won’t know until spring, when the hives will no longer be endangered by cold weather.

Steve Tierney, who leads the Wisbech Castle Project, dubbed the intruders “brain-dead morons.” Cambridgeshire police have released CCTV images in the hopes someone might come forward with information.

[h/t Smithsonian]