The truck carrying almost 500 beehives north overturned on a ramp in Newark, Del., just after 6 p.m. Tuesday. State police ticketed the driver, Adolfo Guerra of Miami, for carrying an unsafe load after investigators found the crash was caused by the hives shifting.
The ramp was closed overnight. Police warned drivers Wednesday that as many as 20 million bees could still be swarming in the neighborhood.
Mike Gray, a tow truck driver, was picking up a disabled car in the area at the time of the crash.
"I was loading the car up over here and then I saw bees everywhere," he told KYW-TV in Philadelphia.
Emergency workers who responded to the crash ended up putting on protective suits. Guerra and two passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries from the crash and between 50 and 100 stings each.
Given the number of beehives traveling U.S. highways to pollinate crops, the Delaware State Police actually created a "bee swarm removal" plan 14 years ago. For the first time, troopers put the plan into action, summoning local beekeepers to assist firefighters in getting swarms of bees to break up.
Paul Dill, a beekeeper, said the bees had been through a lot: "They've been traumatized, they can get a little irritable."