Beekeeper Luc Peters says he’s found himself in “sticky” situations before but Wednesday morning was the first time he’s ever had police call him for a bee-related emergency.
Peters was one of several local beekeepers called in to help after some five million bees fell off a truck on Guelph Line in Burlington, north of Dundas Street.
Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) said officers were called to the area around 6:15 a.m. to respond to a truck with a trailer transporting bees.
“We’re not sure how or what exactly took place but at some point the boxes containing bees or beehives slid off the trailer and spilled all over the road,” Ryan Anderson, media relations officer with HRPS told CBC News.
Police said drivers should close their windows when passing the area and nearby residents should close their windows as the work continues to get the bees off the roadway.
“It sounds bigger than it is for the most part, because a colony of bees could be 80,000 bees,” said Peters, who takes care of the nearly 400,000 bees at nearby Royal Botanic Gardens.
“It kind of depends on how many colonies there are and no doubt to a non-beekeeper that would be rather intense to see regardless… It’s important for people to understand that honey bees are fairly gentle and really don’t bother people unless they are bothered. This is a rare situation where you have to keep your distance from them.”
Police said beekeepers were brought in “to help get the situation under control” and some beekeepers had been stung — though no one had been transported to hospital, Anderson said.
Peters said getting stung is all in a day’s work for a beekeeper. “I’m not fazed by it really,” he said, though he called the incident an “unusual case” because normally this many bees would be staying inside their boxes.
Peters spoke to CBC Hamilton en route to the scene, saying his goal would be to try to identify the queen bee and get the queen inside a box. “The rest of the bees will follow,” he said.
Shortly after 9 a.m., police said the scene was almost cleared.
“Thanks to the overwhelming response from beekeepers coming to help we expect the scene to be clear in approx. 30 mins. The majority of the bees have been safely collected and crates will be hauled away,” police said.
Peters said he suspects the bees may have been coming back from a pollination service — when farmers hire beekeepers to pollinate their crops.
“They are having the worse day out of all of us,” Peters said of the bees.
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