An 89-year-old beekeeper, who has been breeding honey bees able to cope with a parasitic mite, has had his hives kicked over and his sheds destroyed.
Ron Hoskins has spent the past 24 years researching the varroa mite, which has killed millions of bees worldwide.
He said he was "devastated" to find his research set-up near Swindon had been burned to the ground.
"Whoever did this must have stunk of smoke and been stung by bees so I hope someone will report them," he said.
About £30,000 of equipment, including microscopes and generators, was destroyed and 30 beehives were kicked over.
Mr Hoskins said seeing "everything burnt down to the ground" was "soul-destroying".
"I started beekeeping in 1943 and nothing like this has happened in those 76 years," he said.
"I don't know if they killed any colonies and we won't know how many bees we've lost for weeks."
A GoFundMe page with an original target of £1,000 set up on Wednesday had raised more than £17,000 within 24 hours.
Mr Hoskins said he was "elated" by the response.
"More than 1,000 people have donated and we've been inundated with calls and thousands of comments," he said.
"It's wonderful but I still hope whoever did this got stung and someone reports them."
Wiltshire Police said officers were called to Stanton Country Park on Tuesday to investigate a "fire and vandalism".
The force has appealed for anyone with information to get in touch.