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20 million bees swarm Delaware highway

A tractor-trailer carrying 460 hives flipped; the driver and passenger suffered non-life-threatening injuries

By Morgan Zalot & William Bender
Philadelphia Daily News

DELAWARE — Delaware was abuzz last night after a tractor-trailer carrying live bees overturned in Newark, unleashing millions of the flying, stinging insects.

The truck was on the ramp from northbound Delaware Route 896 to Interstate 95 North shortly after 6 p.m. when the accident happened, police said. The trailer toppled, dropping about 460 hives containing between 16 million and 20 million bees, State Police Sgt. Paul Shavack said.

"We can't even get close to the truck now," Shavack said about 90 minutes after the crash.

Angela Pellegrini saw ambulances, fire trucks and the overturned tractor-trailer on her way home to Garnet Valley in Delaware County. She thought it was just a routine accident.

Then, she saw the bees.

Her initial reaction? Close the sunroof!

"You could see bees swarming everywhere," Pellegrini said. "I had the sunroof open and as soon as I saw them, I thought, 'I better close that.' "

Pellegrini said none of the bees got inside her Nissan Rogue.

"I'm a survivor," she joked.

Pellegrini said she was concerned about the truck driver.

"If people had to get in to rescue him, you gotta get through the bees, right?" she said. "It was crazy. I didn't know you transported bees by way of 18-wheel tractor-trailer."

Shavack said the driver and a passenger of the truck were taken to nearby Christiana Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. It was unclear whether they were hurt in the crash, stung or both, Shavack said.

He said that police received reports of some passers-by being stung, but that the reports were unconfirmed. Troopers advised motorists to avoid the area and warned of "transient bee swarms."

Shavack said three bee handlers were at the crash scene assessing the situation, and firefighters sprayed water to disperse the swarms. The ramp remained closed for several hours.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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