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Millions of Bees Released In Truck Accident

May 15, 1987

CORDELE, Ga. (AP) _ A truck carrying 800 boxes of honey bees overturned on a highway and released about 40 million bees.

An overpass near where the accident occurred Thursday night was covered with bees, said Crisp County Fire Chief Guy Jones. ″They were flying around the bridge and a lot of them were sitting on the bridge.″

The unidentified truck driver was treated at a hospital and released, and several officers were stung by bees, but there were no serious injuries, Jones said.

The truck was taking the bees from Florida to the Dakotas, where they were to be used to aid pollination of clover and wheat fields, when it overturned on Interstate 75.

A Crisp County firefighter estimated the number of bees released at 40 million. Authorities closed the interstate and squirted the bees with water throughout the night, said firefighter Ronnie Youngblood.

Water was used because it makes the bees’ wings too wet for flight, encouraging them to cling to the surface or hover in groups, he said.

The Georgia State Patrol said the northbound lanes of the highway were closed from about 9:45 p.m. Thursday to 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Authorities destroyed about 90 percent of the hives. Some were burned at the scene, while others were scooped up by a front-end loader and taken to a field to be dumped.

″You could say it was a total disaster,″ said local beekeeper William Findley, who instructed the officers on bee control.

For a while, the bees were diving at the officers and volunteers who were called to the wreck, Findley said. ″Most of them were just lighting on clothes, but they’d get agitated and start to bite people.″

He said it was a good thing the accident happened at night because bees are less active after dark.

The bees that survived will probably die within six weeks and aren’t thought to be a danger to motorists or residents, authorities said.

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