Beekeepers to the rescue after 5 million bees fall off a truck in Canada
Beekeeper Michael Barber awoke on Wednesday morning to a series of phone calls from the police, who were seeking his assistance following a mishap in Canada. A truck transporting beehives had a mishap, causing five million bees to fall off the vehicle due to the straps that were holding them in place coming loose.
Mr. Barber recounted arriving to a scene filled with a tumultuous cloud of bees, appearing agitated, disoriented, and without a home. The situation was so chaotic that drivers were advised to keep their windows rolled up, and pedestrians were instructed to stay clear.
This extraordinary event took place in Burlington, Ontario, a location quite unlike anything Mr. Barber had encountered during his 11-year beekeeping career. Reflecting on the incident, he expressed his hope to never have to go through such an experience again.
As the owner of Tri-City Bee Rescue in the nearby town of Guelph, Mr. Barber shared that he received his initial calls from the local police at around 07:00 local time (12:00 GMT). They informed him about the accident that had resulted in bee hives being scattered across the road. Concurrently, the police used social media to alert the public, urging them to avoid the affected area situated about an hour south of Toronto.
At the time of the accident, the bees were securely packed in their hives on the back of the truck, en route to their wintering location. Immediately upon being notified by the police, Mr. Barber contacted fellow beekeepers for assistance. Eventually, a group of around a dozen beekeepers came together to help gather the dispersed insects.
Describing the scene, Mr. Barber mentioned that both the bees and their hives were strewn over a radius spanning 400 meters (1,300 feet). Some of the younger bees had congregated on nearby vehicles and mail posts, a behavior they exhibit when seeking safety.
“There were probably a thousand bees on the front of my truck,” he said.
Other bees, ones that were angrier and older, were buzzing around.
After a few hours, most of the bees were able to find their hives, Mr Barber said, but a few hundred bees did not survive the accident.
Some beekeepers were also stung.
The driver of the truck was stung more than 100 times, Mr Barber said, as he wasn’t wearing a full beekeeper suit. Paramedics were nearby and he was not seriously injured.
“There were a lot of flying bees that made even beekeepers in full suits nervous,” he said.
He said he was grateful for the many local beekeepers who worked to keep the insects and the public safe and added that the incident is a good reminder to always securely strap your bees.
“Lesson learned. Everybody survived and a few bees were hurt,” he said. “Hopefully the hives will survive the winter.”