It must have been a driver's worst nightmare - cruising
down the highway and suddenly running smack into millions
of angry swarming bees.
The bees were on the loose in California after a truck
in which they were being transported flipped on its side
on the highway.
The California Highway Patrol said eight to 12 million
of the honey bees escaped from the crates in which they
The truck was carrying over 400 beehives with 30,000 bees
The bees stung police officers, fire crews, and tow truck
drivers trying to corral them after the accident.
"People were being stung left and right. It was an
ugly, ugly scene," one police officer said.
The great escape happened near Sacramento and the insects
swarmed over an area of Highway 99.
For seven hours authorities brought in handlers who used
smoke in a bid to calm the bees and coax them back into
Several beekeepers driving past the accident stopped to
help the emergency services deal with the bees.
The highway had to be closed for a period.
Police did not know what caused the tractor trailer carrying
the bees to flip over while entering the highway on its
way to Yakima, Washington. But they said they believe
the driver may have been driving too fast.
The bees had been used to pollinate crops in the San Joaquin
The honeybee is the world's premier pollinator and is
invaluable to farmers for pollination.
But there has been a shortage of them in recent times
because of "Colony Collapse Disorder". US beekeepers
have been losing thousands of their bees, puzzling scientists.
This has led to a rise in honey prices and has also threatened
fruit and vegetable production.
After a seven-hour clean-up operation at Sacramento, police
were unable to say how many bees remained unaccounted
for. But they were not getting any calls from panicked
drivers. "No news is good news," one officer
- March 28, 2008