June 22, 2024

Semi-Truck Transporting 15 Million Bees Crashes in Maine, Uncertain Amount of Flying Creatures Released

I despise bugs, especially the ones that soar through the air, so you can envision my frustration upon discovering an 18-wheeler transporting about 15 million honey bees crashed and flipped over on I-95 in Maine while en route to pollinate blueberry fields in Washington County.

Fortunately for you and me, “most” of the 15 million flying creatures were confined within the truck, which tipped over, as reported by the Associated Press. A spokesperson for the Maine state police mentioned that the “objective was to rescue them.” Regrettably for emergency responders, they weren’t aware of the bee cargo until firefighters descended an embankment to check for spilled fluids. They unfortunately discovered the situation the hard way.

“The team members did endure multiple stings. Everyone received stings at least a few times,” Fire Chief Travis Leary, who also suffered several bee stings, stated to the AP.

Thankfully, the damage from the stings could have been much worse, but with temperatures in the 40s, the tiny stinging insects were not as agitated as they might have been in warmer weather. A beekeeper was also summoned to assist in corralling the bees.

Luckily, this bee calamity will not pose a threat to Maine’s blueberry harvest, according to experts interviewed by Bangor Daily News:

The single truck may impact a small farmer who may only order bees once a year, said Peter Cowin, the founder and former president of the Penobscot County Beekeepers Association. However, for a large blueberry producer like Wyman’s, a single damaged truck is unlikely to affect the company’s yield.

“In terms of state crop pollination, this truck is probably a small fraction,” Cowin remarked.

While 15 million bees may sound like an unimaginable quantity, Cowin clarified that the truck represents just a fraction of the 3 billion out-of-state bees Maine receives annually for crop pollination.


The bee trucks that journey to Maine typically carry around 400 colonies, each comprising 30,000 to 45,000 bees.

That’s an excessive number of bees, oh my goodness.

Nonetheless, they generally originate from southern regions with earlier springs, allowing colonies ample time to expand in size, as per the Bangor Daily News. This specific batch of bees was en route from Georgia.

Here’s how they are transported:

Bees are conveyed in wooden hives stacked on an open flatbed truck and covered with a mesh. While the mesh contains most of the bees, some can still escape when the truck halts.

It is also apparently quite common for some bees to break free from their enclosure during transport when the truck driver stops for breaks or meals. They can lose “tens of thousands of bees” at pit stops along their route. I’m never setting foot in a rest area again. However, it is customary for local beekeepers to be called in after a truck departs to manage and tidy up the abandoned bees. Nonetheless, I find this situation extremely unsettling.


Q: Were any individuals harmed in the bee truck accident?

A: Fortunately, no one sustained serious injuries in the incident, but some responders did get stung by the bees.

Q: How did the authorities manage the situation?

A: Firefighters and a beekeeper were called in to contain and handle the bees after the truck overturned.


In conclusion, the overturned bee truck in Maine may have caused some chaos, but thankfully, the impact on the blueberry crop is expected to be minimal. The collaboration of emergency responders and bee experts in handling the situation showcases the importance of quick and efficient action in such incidents involving unique cargo like honey bees.

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