15 million bees contained after bee-laden truck crashes in Maine

In this image provided by Maine State Police, emergency crews work to remove a tractor-trailer hauling 15 million bees to be used in pollinating the state’s blueberry crops after it overturned on Interstate-95, Thursday evening, May 9, 2024, in Clin

A major accident occurred when a tractor-trailer carrying about 15 million honey bees, on a crucial journey to pollinate blueberry fields, overturned on a major highway in Maine, officials said. 

Emergency response and bee containment 

Following the crash, the driver was promptly taken to the hospital for precautionary measures. Meanwhile, emergency personnel focused on the safety of the cargo. The bees, housed in hives securely strapped to the trailer, remained largely contained as the trailer lay on its side. 

The local fire department, unaware of the cargo’s nature, discovered the bees in a dramatic fashion. 

Fire Chief Travis Leary recounted the unexpected challenge with the Associated Press. "The guys did get stung on a regular basis. Everyone got stung at least a couple of times," said Leary, who suffered several bee stings. 

Shannon Moss, a spokesperson for the state police, emphasized that the primary objective was to preserve the bee population. 

Moss stated that the "goal was to save them," highlighting the bees' importance to local agriculture. 

Officials noted that the local temperature, which remained in the 40s, likely prevented the bees from becoming more agitated during the rescue operation. A professional beekeeper was summoned to effectively corral the bees, ensuring their safety and minimizing further complications.

The truckload of bees was headed to Washington County, a region known for its extensive wild blueberry industry, where bees are routinely transported to aid in pollinating blueberry fields each spring.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. It was reported from Los Angeles.