20 million bees spill on local highway, driver runs for his life

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HOWE — An estimated 20 million bees are or will soon be dead following a semi-truck crash on State Highway 33 near Howe Thursday morning.

The Butte County Sheriff’s Office reports a 2005 Freightliner swerved off the road at milepost 8 south of Howe at 8:01 a.m. The semi-truck was carrying 408 beehives, each carrying 50,000 bees.

The bees, owned by KatieBee Honey in Meridian, were being transported to North Dakota to make honey.

“They went off the east side of the northbound lane,” Sheriff Wes Collins said. “The truck and trailer tipped over on its passenger side and then righted itself and continued for approximately 75 yards before it came to rest out in the Sagebrush.”

It is still unclear why the driver of the truck swerved, officials said.

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The beehives were completely destroyed when the flatbed trailer tipped, releasing millions of bees alongside the highway.

The driver of the truck, Rolondo Aparicio of Florida, was uninjured, and took off running down the highway after the accident occurred, Collins said.

KatieBee Honey owner Brian Wiggins said it is a complete loss.

“There is really no saving them when it is this bad,” Wiggins said. “All the bees that escaped will be dead by tomorrow, because they can’t live without their colonies.”

The remaining bees at the crash site were killed with foam by Idaho National Laboratory emergency responders.

The crash occurred near INL.

“If they weren’t killed they’d continue to be a hazard, especially for motorcyclists,” Collins said.

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