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Millions of bees on loose after Utah truck crash

Published October 24, 2011 8:30 am

St. George • Truck driver, wife, cop and reporter are stung.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Traffic lanes have reopened early Monday morning after a flatbed truck carrying beehives crashed Sunday, releasing 25 million bees into Utah's Dixie and wreaking havoc on interstate traffic.

The truck was carrying the boxed bee colonies south on Interstate 15 about 5:30 p.m. when it rolled in a construction zone in eastern St. George, Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Dan Altenes said. The cause of the crash is not known.

Although the hives — 460 in all — were contained by a net over the truck's trailer, the bees escaped.

Several people were stung, including the truck driver and his wife, a police officer, others who tried to help after the crash and a news reporter, Altenes said. The driver and his wife were taken to a hospital for minor injuries and bee stings.

The wreck led to long traffic delays, another crash and a fire as the bees prevented crews from removing the truck. Vehicles were backed up about three miles, Washington County dispatchers said. As motorists slowed, a car rear-ended another semitrailer, which caused a fire, troopers said. The victims' conditions were not known as of Sunday night, though a medical helicopter was sent to the scene, said UHP Corporal Todd Johnson.

Troopers were consulting with several local beekeepers to determine how to best remove the bees, Altenes said. The bees likely will try to stay close to their queens, said Larry Lewis, spokesman for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

"When this has happened before, they try to hive up or swarm up around the queen," Lewis said. He did not know whether the queen bees in the crash had stayed in their hives.

ealberty@sltrib.comTwitter: @erinalberty




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