The Auburn Fire Department was forced to drown out the bees after a semi truck hauling honeybees crashed.

AUBURN, Calif. (CBS Sacramento) — A semi truck hauling honeybees crashed after avoiding a slow down on Interstate 80 and exiting off onto a side street.

It happened around 7 p.m. Thursday night near Nevada Street. Boxes of beehives were crushed, and the driver was sent to the hospital.

“Did you lose your brakes?” asked a bystander.

“Yeah, I kept pumping them, and pumping them, and pumping them,” said the driver, bleeding from a head wound and getting stung. “I want to get away from these bees,” he said, walking away.

Police said traffic quickly backed up and the driver had to ditch the freeway, resulting in a mass-casualty accident for millions of honey bees.

“When they have an impact like that, they are usually sprung or damaged and really hard to salvage,” said John Miller, a beekeeper from Newcastle.

He heard the news and quickly came to assess any chance of survival.

“The fire department is responsible for the public’s safety, and these bees would probably, if they were allowed to stay there, they’d start flying and people would encounter the bees,” he said.

A danger to the public, the bees had to be drowned by the Auburn Fire Department.

Miller said he’d seen this before and there are just no other options.

“It’s a loss for the owners of the bees, and it’s a tragedy for the hives themselves. These bees were destined to do some pollination work next spring — fruits vegetables, nuts. It’s a tragedy; it’s sad,” he added.

If it were to have happened during the day, Miller said there might have been a better chance for survival.

The mess ultimately took hours to clean up, but had the driver not bailed off the freeway, this could’ve been an absolute disaster, experts say.

Jennifer McGraw

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