15 Million Bees Scattered on I-95 After Tractor-Trailer Crash in Maine

A truck carrying 15 million honey bees overturned on Interstate 95 in Clinton, Maine, en route to Washington County for blueberry pollination. Despite the accident, most bees remained contained, and a local beekeeper helped corral escaped bees.

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Bijay Laxmi
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15 Million Bees Scattered on I-95 After Tractor-Trailer Crash in Maine

15 Million Bees Scattered on I-95 After Tractor-Trailer Crash in Maine

On Thursday evening, a million, truck carrying approximately 15 million honey bees overturned on Interstate 95 in Clinton, Maine. The bees were en route to Washington County for blueberry pollination when the accident occurred around 7 p.m.

The driver of the tractor-trailer was hospitalized as a precaution following the crash. Meanwhile, first responders worked diligently to ensure the safety of the bees, most of which remained contained within their hives strapped to the trailer. "The goal was to save them," said Shannon Moss, image a state police spokesperson.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the importance of pollinators like honey bees in maintaining the health of our food supply, and the potential consequences of disruptions to their transportation and deployment. The impact of such events can have far-reaching effects on local economies and food security.

However, firefighters at the scene initially didn't realize the cargo was bees until they went down an embankment to check for leaking fluids. Fire Chief Travis Leary reported that the responders suffered multiple bee stings during their efforts. "The guys did get stung on a regular basis. Everyone got stung at least a couple of times," Leary said, who himself endured several stings.

The cool weather, with temperatures in the 40s, may have prevented the bees from becoming more aggressive during the several hours it took to upright the truck using a tow truck and remove it from the scene. A beekeeper was summoned to help corral the bees that had million, truck, crashes escaped their enclosures.

The truckload of bees originated from Georgia, one of the southern states that regularly supply bees to Maine for crop pollination. Bee trucks typically carry about 400 colonies, each containing 30,000 to 45,000 bees. The bees are transported in wooden apiaries stacked on an open-air flatbed truck and covered with a net to keep most of them contained.

Despite the accident, local bee expert Peter Cowin believes the crash likely won't hamper Maine's blueberry harvest this year. "In terms of state crop pollination, this truck is likely a drop in the bucket," said Cowin, founder and former president of the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association. Maine receives around 3 billion out-of-state bees each year to pollinate crops.

The overturned tractor-trailer carrying 15 million honey bees destined for blueberry pollination in Washington County caused quite a buzz on Interstate 95 in Clinton, Maine. While the driver was hospitalized and first responders faced numerous bee stings, most of the bees remained contained thanks to the quick actions of emergency crews and the assistance of a local beekeeper. Experts believe this incident is unlikely to significantly impact Maine's blueberry harvest this season.