Truck hauling more than 400 beehives involved in chain reaction crash on I-85

By: Blake Hanson

Updated:

MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. - A swarm of bees from a truck hauling a flat bed with more than 400 hives harassed emergency crews as they responded to a multi-vehicle crash Tuesday afternoon on Interstate 85 northbound. 

Three tractor-trailers and a truck hauling a trailer carrying bees were involved in the wreck Tuesday afternoon at the Mecklenburg and Gaston county line on the bridge over the Catawba River.

The swarm of bees was so thick, it could be seen from Chopper 9 Skyzoom coating concrete and pestering first responders trying to get the mess cleaned up.

The trailer overturned at mile marker 28, near the weigh station at the Catawba River. Multiple NCDOT incident management units responded to the scene, as well as a beekeeper.

Bob Stephens showed Channel 9 where he was stung. He said the bees got him more than 50 times after he got out of his car, one of several involved in the wreck.

"It was very scary," he said. "I didn't know where they were coming from."

The driver of the truck said he was taking about 480 hives from Florida to New York when he was involved in the chain reaction crash. Each hive usually carries more than 20,000 bees.

"When the jolt hit, a lot of them fell out of the bottom of the net," driver Cory Piep said.

Troopers warned drivers to avoid the area due to the swarm of bees after the crash.

Crews called in a group of beekeepers to help. After about an hour, the swarm cleared. A beekeeper told Channel 9 that bees typically return to their hive instinctively.

"With any luck, most of the bees will go back in the box," beekeeper David Segrest said. 

Officials said one person was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The lanes reopened around 5:40 p.m.

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