Over 25 Million Bees Released on Interstate After Tractor-Trailer Crash

by Amy Myers

While traveling on interstate 80 in Utah, a semitrailer carrying more than 200 beehives toppled over, releasing 25 million bees into the air. The incident occurred on June 27 and lasted several hours as both first responders and beekeepers rushed to the scene to help both species. Sadly, though, there wasn’t a happy ending for the pollinators.

It’s unclear exactly why the semitrailer overturned on the highway, but when it did, chaos quickly ensued. As first responders and emergency personnel came to assist the semitrailer driver and co-driver, the bees began to sting those on the scene. Thankfully, though, the drivers only sustained minor injuries but still needed hospitalization.

Meanwhile, several, local beekeepers arrived as well, hoping to rescue as many of the vital insects as possible. But the efforts were in vain.

Beekeeper Sam Cohen told Fox 13 Salt Lake City that “maybe 5%” is “salvageable,” adding, “It’s sad to see.”

According to the keepers, the owners of the hives had called off the rescue effort. They explained that it was now a matter of insurance.

Beekeeper Mckay Opeifa said, “Every bee counts — you want to run up and see if we can help. There’s a lot of them that are dead already, so it’s kind of sad.”

Nebraskan Couple Discovers 6,000 Bees in Walls of 100-Year-Old Home

Further north in Nebraska, a couple had their own run-in with a swarm of bees earlier in June. After making some bee-friendly changes to their yard, Thomas and Marylu Gouttierre noticed a bizarre sound in their 100-year-old home.

“If you put your ears to the wall you could hear the buzzing,” Thomas told the Omaha World-Herald. Thomas is a retired dean at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He also used to lead the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Omaha.

They discovered more than 6,000 bees hiding in their walls, much less than the semitrailer incident but still alarming for a homeowner. Despite their initial fear, though, the Nebraskan couple knew these creatures were crucial to plant life.

“Our first thought was should we call an exterminator,” Thomas Gouttierre said. “But we’ve been reading and there are a lot of great shows on PBS ‘Nature’ about how important bees are to pollinating the world in which we live.”

Soon, Ryan Gilligan of Gilly’s Gold and Larry Cottle of Countryside Acres Aviary arrived at the old house and safely transported them to portable hives. Before the bees were gone, though, the Gouttierres tasted some of the honey.

“I think in the long run, it’s made us appreciate all the more the value of bees and the importance of them to the process of pollination and all the things insects may do to help us eat,” Thomas concluded.