LYNNWOOD, Wash., April 17 (UPI) -- An overturned truck on a stretch of interstate in Washington state released up to 44 million angry bees onto the road during the early morning Friday.
The Washington State Patrol said the semi truck was on Interstate 5 in Lynnwood when it blew a front tire and overturned around 3:30 a.m. Friday.
The crash dumped 448 honey bee hives, which troopers said contained an estimated 13.7 million bees, but at least one beekeeper said could have been up to 44 million bees.
If u haven't already seen pics of the semi that lost the load of Honey Bees here u go. About 13.7 million Bees total. pic.twitter.com/f0DZUWY8fo— Trooper Mark Francis (@wspd7pio) April 17, 2015
Troopers said the bees were calm in the predawn cool weather, but they became increasingly agitated as the sun came up and the weather warmed.
Firefighters sprayed the bees with water to slow them down and workers from Belleville Honey and Beekeeping Supply, the Burlington company that owns the bees, donned special suits and used smoke to calm the insects while attempting to recapture them.
Seth Smith of Valley Buzz Beekeeping said the bees started to spread once the temperature rose above 55 degrees and officials warned motorists to drive with their windows up and vents closed to prevent the bees from getting into their cars.
Multiple reporters on the scene reported being stung by the bees.
Seth Thompson of Belleville Honey and Beekeeping Supply said about 128 hives were saved before firefighters used a layer of foam to drown the remaining insects about 9 a.m.
Beekeepers said killing the remaining bees was necessary as they were starting to spread out over a larger and larger area as the weather improved.
Sgt. Keith Leary of the Washington State Patrol said the truckload of bees had been worth about $92,000.