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Thousands Of Honey Bees Escape Truck On Route 287 In New Jersey

Truck Was Said To Be Moving Between 30,000 & 50,000 From Florida To Maine

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BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Thousands of bees were released into a New Jersey town Monday, when a tractor trailer carting the insects suddenly shifted its load.

As CBS 2’s Christine Sloan reported, the incident happened around 8 a.m. Monday on Route 287 in the Bernards Township town of Basking Ridge.

Bernards Police Capt. Edward Byrnes told WCBS 880 the truck was transporting between 30,000 and 50,000 bees from Florida to Maine at the time of the incident.

Bees On The Loose In New Jersey (credit: CBS 2)

Bees On The Loose In New Jersey (credit: CBS 2)

Beekeepers dressed in protective gear rushed the truck to try to prevent a deluge of honey bees from escaping. They were able to contain most of them, but thousands of bees were able to get out.

“The load was not properly on the truck,” said beekeeper Janet Katz. “We got the bees off the truck, covered them, calmed them down, got all the stilled buckets off and re-did the load.”

Byrnes said the bees that escaped were staying close to the vehicle because the queen was still on the truck.

The truck driver had picked up boxes of beehives in Georgia to take to Maine when the load shifted. He got off of the exit, and that is when the beekeepers and police were called in.

“It was a honey of a situation – I can throw a joke in there,” said Bernards Township police Officer Ray Gizienski. “I think Basking Ridge has gained a few new friends.”

Honeybees are not aggressive and do not sting unless agitated. But they can become annoyed by smells such as colognes and perfumes, the beekeepers said.

But Katz said honeybees will act defensively when protecting their queen, which is why most of them found their way back to their hives.

The truck driver was stung about a dozen times, WCBS 880 reported. Three officers were also stung.

There was a backup for a short time on Route 287, but everything was back to normal as soon as the bees were contained. The truck pulled away around noon.

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