By Elizabeth Hur
NEWARK, Del., (CBS) — A tractor trailer flipped on its side and what was inside flew out – millions of honey bees!
The big rig was hauling an estimated 20 million bees Tuesday afternoon from Florida to Maine when it crashed on the ramp from northbound 898 to northbound I-95 in Newark, Delaware.
The ramp was closed until it reopened at about 7 a.m. Wednesday.
“I was loading the car up over here and then I saw bees everywhere,” Mike Gray said.
Gray, a tow truck driver who was called to the scene for an unrelated disabled car, said he had no idea the bees had been freed from the hives originally contained in the pallets the tractor trailer was carrying.
Gray added, “I’ve seen eggs and chickens, but never a bee truck flipped over.”
And it’s not every day you see first responders swatting away and brushing off before suiting up to get on the job. In fact, it wasn’t long before they called for backup.
Beekeeper Dave Feinberg said, “They’re giving us a half hour to get all the hives we can off of the truck. There’s literally millions of bees down there.”
Paul Dill, also a beekeeper added, “They’ve been traumatized, they can get a little irritable.”
Turns out, this is the first time in 14 years the Delaware State Police Department had to utilize its “Bee Swarm Removal Plan”. The first step actually calls for rounding up the local beekeepers, who together with fire crews, strategically disperse the bee swarms. It isn’t until that’s completed the overturned tractor trailer can be up-righted.
“Having traveled up from Florida, up here they’re probably thirsty, now they’re all disoriented and angry I’m sure,” Feinberg added if you happen to stumble upon some bees that managed to escape, “Don’t spray them, don’t kill them, call somebody before you kill them, your local beekeepers association.”
The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, three men were transported to the hospital in stable condition. Police say the 55-year-old driver of the tractor trailer along with his 24-year-old and 25-year-old passengers suffered minor injuries from the crash, but were subsequently each stung 50 to 100 times.