Story at a glance
- An eighteen-wheeler truck carrying beehives overturned in Texas, releasing the bees.
- The bees were likely on their way to almond farms, which depend on pollination for production.
- The bee population in the United States is struggling as climate change worsens and their habitats disappear.
When an 18-wheeler overturned on a San Antonio highway this Sunday, millions of bees escaped into the air, covering the truck and nearby cars, local news stations reported.
The crash closed down the southbound lanes of I-10, which runs from Florida to Los Angeles, for several hours after it was reported at 11 a.m. near the area’s notorious “Finesilver Curve,” where truck crashes are all too common. It took 16 units of the San Antonio Fire Department five hours to clean up the hives, which had spilled all over the highway and surface streets below — but at a cost.
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"In order to prevent the bees from continuing to sting the driver of the truck, the bystanders, and emergency personnel the decision was made to utilize our foam systems to neutralize the bees," said a spokesperson for SAFD.
No one required medical care or transport, but the bees that hadn't flown away were likely harmed or even killed by the spray and a professional bee removal service was not able to retrieve them.
Rick Fink, the president of the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association, was not at the scene, but told KSAT the hives were likely on their way to pollinate almond orchards.
“It’s about a six to eight-week time frame,” Fink told KSAT. “And they estimate 80 percent of all the commercial pollinating hives in the United States go to Southern California this time of year. So it’s a pretty good bet.”
California is the world’s greatest producer of almonds, responsible for about 80 percent of the world’s almonds, and almond growers rent about 1.5 million colonies of honeybees per year for around $300 million. But the population of bees in the United States has been threatened recently, especially by the destruction of their habitats and worsening climate change.
“It saddens me definitely from the standpoint of the loss of bees. You know, I’m glad no people were hurt, but it definitely saddens me from that standpoint,” Fink told KSAT.
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