Angry bees hinder cleanup |

Angry bees hinder cleanup

David Burger, The Park Record
First responders of the North Summit Fire District spray a trailer full of bees to keep them cool during a hazmat situation Wednesday on I-80.

You don’t want to make 35,000 bees angry.

That was the situation Wednesday afternoon when firemen and EMS personnel from the North Summit Fire District arrived on scene where a bee-carrying truck had run into some debris on Interstate 80 near the Echo Canyon off-ramp, suffering a ruptured fuel tank that spilled 150 gallons of fuel.

Besides laying out booms and absorbent material to contain the spill, first responders had to deal with the truck’s cargo: about a half-a-million dollars’ worth of honey bees. When bees are transported, they are subject to the cooling relative wind that the trucks create.

But when the bees are stationary, especially on hot days like Wednesday, they become overheated, and that makes them leave their hives and become agitated.

"This was not our first rodeo dealing with bees," said Ken Smith, NFSD chief, one of the first responders. He knew that along with keeping the oil spill from spreading, he and others needed to spray the bees with water to cool them off. Once cooled, the bees retreat to their hives.

Some bees were released during the accident, leaving two responders with stings.

No fuel reached the nearby Echo Creek, said Tyler Rowser, NSFD public information officer.

The truck was taken to Salt Lake City for repairs, while the trailer with the bees was taken to the Coalville Fairgrounds, where they were treated with sprinklers to continue to keep their temperatures down.

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