Archive for Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Millions of loose bees slow cleanup

Semitrailer overturns in Kansas City suburb, releasing 520 hives’ inhabitants

June 24, 2003

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— Rain on Monday stalled efforts to corral millions of bees spilled when a tractor-trailer skidded off a highway interchange in this Kansas City suburb.

Bee expert Rheuben Johnson and others decided to wait until Monday evening to continue the work that started early Sunday when more than 500 hives fell off the truck and broke open.

"He prefers to work at night when the bees are more dormant," said Village Administrator Lois Anderson. "They aren't causing any real traffic hazard, so that's fine with us."

Shortly after 1:30 a.m. Sunday, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said, a tractor-trailer hauling 520 beehives overturned on the entrance ramp linking Interstate 435 to Interstate 35.

The truck skidded along a slick patch before coming to rest in the grass alongside the highway.

The beehives were being hauled by driver Steve Beavers of Bartlesville, Okla. No serious injuries were reported, although Beavers, firefighters, police and tow truck operators were stung repeatedly, the patrol said.

"The wrecker drivers really got hammered," Beavers said Sunday night.

Residents of the Northgate Mobile Estates mobile home park, within 100 yards of the accident, stayed inside or left their homes.

"They're all over the trailer park. It's a mess over the whole general area," said Johnson, with A-Bee's at Killcreek Farm, a company near Olathe, Kan., that specializes in bee control.

Mark Roberts assists in the cleanup of an accident Sunday that
involved millions of bees escaping in Claycomo, Mo.

Mark Roberts assists in the cleanup of an accident Sunday that involved millions of bees escaping in Claycomo, Mo.

Johnson's job is to set the hives back up, scoop up the bees -- sometimes by the handful -- and get them back in the hives. Each hive contains up to 50,000 bees.

Johnson said the bees were easier to corral in the evening, when they land for the night.

Beavers said the bees were coming from Millerton, Okla., and were on their way to Wisconsin, where they are to pollinate cranberry fields. Beavers said he had driven the bees for three summers because the company's regular drivers didn't like to haul bees.

Beavers said a woman and her husband stopped to help less than a minute after the accident.

"She asked, 'What are these insects?"' Beavers said. "I told her 'bees,' and she said, 'I have to go."'

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