A tractor-trailer carrying a cargo of 460 beehives overturned last night on a ramp into the I-95 North in Newark, Delaware. The accident released the insects from their hives, causing a swarm of an estimated 20 million bees. Authorities reported the driver of the truck received a minor arm injury, and that he and his two passengers also received 50–100 stings each from their irate and confused payload.
The accident occurred just after 6pm local time on the on-ramp from Route 896. When local authorities arrived they found the occupants of the truck being swarmed by bees. “(They) were running down the street covered in bees, receiving multiple bee stings,” the chief of New Castle County Paramedics, Lawrence Tan, told local TV station WPVI. And while it could be argued that justice has already been served, the driver has since been cited for carrying an unsafe load.
The road remained closed until around 7am this morning as crews worked to subdue and contain the swarming bees and clean up the aftermath. While initially crews could not get close enough to the truck for fear of being stung, they were eventually advised by beekeepers to disperse the swarm with water. Delaware State Police have had a honeybee containment action plan in place for just such an emergency for 14 years, but last night’s incident was the first time they had ever had to follow it. Beekeepers were called to the scene and fire crews were instructed to hose the bees down.
The bees were being transported from Florida to Maine to pollinate blueberry crops. It is estimated that about 90 percent of the bees were lost in the accident, though local beekeepers are allowed to claim any they may find.