Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Truck Carrying 14 Million Honeybees Crashes

Part of the honeybee rescue effort. Photo courtesy: katu.com

As anyone who reads my blog with any regularity knows, I have a special passion for honeybees; raw, unpasterized honey; and, flying pollinators in general. Without our winged pollinators, we would soon be unable to feed ourselves.

While I applaud bees being rented out to help the farmers increase their agricultural yields for many reasons, safer transport over shorter distances must be found for these precious little pollinators.

In the search for solutions to the ongoing plight of honeybees, both mainstream bee experts and advocates of alternative approaches to beekeeping have suggested that the practice of trucking honeybees thousands of miles across country for pollination may be causing undue stress and contributing to colony losses. Whether or not this is the case, it's a fair bet that crashing a truck full of bees is not going to do them, or rescue workers dealing with the incident, much good. The Daily Mail reports on a major honeybee truck crash in Idaho that resulted in 14 million displaced bees, honey all over the highway, stung rescue workers, and a fear of hungry bears:
Fire crews sprayed the bees with water at first to try and cool them down. A bee expert then suggested using fire foam to try and kill them so the workers could get near the truck to clean up the mess and recover the vehicle and surviving hives.

"I am worried about the bears coming down now - the grizzly bears because there are so many bees that we didn't kill that they will be down," said Chief Strandberg.
The weekend did not end well for fire and police personnel near Island Park, Idaho, where 14 million bees went berserk after a semi wrecked on a highway Sunday afternoon. The truck was carrying more than 400 hives; crews didn't finish cleaning what was called a river of honey off the road until the nex day.

The bees swarmed in black clouds that kept the truck driver and rescue personnel in their vehicles until they could put on protective gear. In the end, it seems that many of the bees were killed after being sprayed by firefighting foam.

The load of bees and honey was headed from California to Minot, N.D. And according to local TV station KIFI (Local News 8), "It is not unusual for semi-trucks with bees to travel U.S. Highway 20. Strandberg said about three or four trucks come through every week."

KIFI reports that the bees have a street value of three cents apiece, meaning that an estimated $400,000 worth of insects were lost in the crash.

KIFI sent a Local News 8 reporter to the scene; the resulting piece seems to have been filed under a state of extreme duress, as one roadside "standup" shot devolved into hair-flailing acts of self-preservation before she could speak. You can watch the video. But it should be noted that it's not easy to film bees on the best of days, let alone when they're rampaging along a rural highway that's also likely to become a gathering point for grizzly bears.

For any conspiracy theorists out there, who may be wondering why millions of bees are routinely being transported on America's highways, on shadowy semis bound for the Dakotas — check out the entry on bees at the X-Files Wiki.

A video of the incident.

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