Motorists in Delaware were buzzing with one of the most unusual police alerts ever: “Transient bee swarms in the area.”
A tractor-trailer hauling 460 hives from Florida to Maine overturned on a northbound on-ramp on I-95 in Newark, Del., releasing between 16 million and 20 million bees and causing police to advise drivers to avoid the area.
The driver, 55, and two passengers in their 20s suffered minor injuries in the crash, but were each stung by between 50 and 100 bees.
"(They) were running down the street covered in bees, receiving multiple bee stings," Lawrence Tan, chief of New Castle County Paramedics, told WPVI. The station also sent out a photo of the accident scene:
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The three were taken to a hospital and are in stable condition, according to multiple reports in the local media.
The state police have had a contingency plan in place for the removal of bee swarms for 14 years, but until now, it's just been words on paper.
"This is the first time we've actually activated the plan," Sgt. Paul G. Shavack told Delaware Online.
With so many bees around the truck, it took at least an hour before police could even get near it -- so they called in experts, as the plan advises.
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“Having traveled up from Florida, up here they’re probably thirsty, now they’re all disoriented and angry I’m sure,” beekeeper Dave Feinberg told CBS Philadelphia.
"They've been traumatized so they're pretty upset now," Paul Dill, another beekeeper, told CSNPhilly.com.
Beekeepers advised police not to attempt to round them up but to disperse them with water. Video of the scene shows firefighters spraying the wreck.
The bees were being brought to Maine to pollinate blueberries, NBC Philadelphia reports. But it's estimated that 90 percent of the bees were lost as a result of the accident.
It's not a total loss for everyone, though. Local beekeepers are being allowed to keep whatever bees they can roundup.