Canadian authorities race to capture 5 million bees from roadway spill

Sep 1, 2023, 6:31 AM

Beekeepers Terri Faloney, left, and Tyler Trute remove bees from a car on Wednesday. (Carlos Osorio...

Beekeepers Terri Faloney, left, and Tyler Trute remove bees from a car on Wednesday. (Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press/AP)

(Carlos Osorio/The Canadian Press/AP)

Authorities raced to capture 5 million bees released yesterday after a truck carrying several crates of hives fell onto a roadway in Ontario, Canada, Halton Regional Police Constable Ryan Anderson told CNN.

Halton Regional Police received a call shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday, after the straps attached to the crates of beehives became loose and created a spill, releasing the millions of bees onto the roadway in Burlington, Anderson told CNN by phone.

Burlington is south of Toronto. The city is located on the shores of Lake Ontario between Toronto and Niagara Falls, according to its website.

After police shared a social media post warning residents and vehicles to stay clear of the area, about six or seven local beekeepers volunteered to help get the bees back to safety, Anderson said.

“Within a couple hours, the majority of the bees were safely back in their hives in their crates, and were safely loaded back on the trailer,” Anderson said.

A local Canadian beekeeper was one of the volunteers who helped capture some of the 5 million bees.

Michael Barber, who owns Tri-City Bee Rescue in nearby Guelph, said he received a call from police around 7 a.m. Wednesday morning to help assist with the rescue of the bees.

The honeybees were being moved after being used locally for pollination, Barber told CNN by phone.

Barber said usually around this time of year, beekeepers work to bring bees back to their winter home yard.

“In this case, they were getting out of the farmer’s field before they harvested their crops, and just take them back to their home yard,” he said.

“There were probably about 40 hives on the trailer, and about 20 of the hives tipped off of the trailer because [the driver] was trying to avoid hitting a deer,” Barber added. “Once I got on the scene, I was talking with the beekeeper who was involved in the accident, asking how we could help best and [we came] up with a plan.”

Following the nearly four-hour ordeal, several of the crates were left on the side of the roadway in hopes the remaining bees who had taken off would return to their queen in the hive and be collected later, Anderson said.

Police say the initial beekeeper was stung repeatedly, but there were no serious injuries following the swarm of bees in the area.

“The initial beekeeper on scene was stung quite a few times,” Anderson said.

Police could not provide further details about why and where the bees were being transported, but Anderson said it is not uncommon for bees to be transported to help farmers with pollination.

Anderson said it was a collective effort from residents, officers, and the local beekeepers to clear the roadway and allow everyone to get to their destination safely.

“Everyone kind of pitched in,” Anderson said. “I was told that even some local residents helped out, people in the area or passersby.”

“It was a collective effort from residents and beekeepers that got the scene cleaned up safely and as quickly as we could have hoped for.”

Barber said while it was sad to witness the number of bees who died from the incident, the helping hands provided by the group of local beekeepers was a nice showing of community.

“It was sad to just be on the scene and see the carnage and just the amount of dead bees on the road,” Barber said. “But it was really great to see all of the beekeepers coming for the call, and just trying to help.

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Canadian authorities race to capture 5 million bees from roadway spill