Semi-truck carrying more than 40 million bees overturns on I-5, WSP warns drivers

LYNNWOOD -- A semi-truck loaded with more than 40 million bees overturned on Interstate 5 in Lynnwood, sending more and more angry insects into the air as the temperature warmed up and traffic intensified.

The crash occurred sometime before 4 a.m. Friday morning near Milepost 183 at the intersection of I-5 and I-405. The semi-truck blew a front tire and overturned, Washington State Patrol Troopers said, spilling 448 honey bee hives onto their side on the roadway.

The driver of the semi-truck was not inured in the crash.

The bees remained calm at first in the cool morning air, but are grew increasingly agitated, WSP troopers said.  Firefighters on the scene sprayed the bees with water, and a company from Burlington suited up in an attempt to calm and remove the bees.

At least two Q13 FOX News photographers, along with reporter Kelly O'Connell, were stung as the bees woke with the sun. Once temperature got above 55 degrees, the bees stopped clustering together and branched out, Seth Smith of Valley Buzz Beekeeping said.

"Don't hang around being a looky-loo," Smith said.

Officials warned removal of the bees could take hours. They also encouraged drivers to roll up their windows and close vents while driving by, as a number of people have reported being stung.

By 9 a.m., the semi-truck was turned right-side up and fire crews sprayed water on the remaining bees, killing them. Beekeepers told Q13 FOX News that this was necessary, as the bees continued to grow more active and branch out.

Smith called the crash a "big blow" to the local bee ecosystem, as $92,000 worth of bees are now in peril. Thousands of dead bees littered the ground by 7 a.m.