18-wheeler carrying load of honeybees flips, causes road closure near downtown

No injuries were reported, officials say

SAN ANTONIO – Millions of bees were killed or dispersed in the downtown area after an 18-wheeler that was hauling them rolled over at the Finesilver Curve near downtown.

The incident happened just before 11 a.m., Sunday morning on the I-10 West offramp to Eastbound I-35. Another truck that was hauling the bee boxes was involved in the incident, but it did not flip, according to officials. The truck was believed to be carrying about 400 or more bee hives, each of which can contain 20,000 to 25,000 bees.

The rollover was caused by a combination of speed, wind and the driver being unfamiliar with the sharp curve of the ramp coming from I-35 South to I-10 West, San Antonio police said.

Some of the bees escaped the truck; however, those that remained at the scene were killed after being sprayed with foam by firefighters who were concerned about safety. A San Antonio Fire Department spokesman said crews were unable to check on the driver at first because of the swarms of bees.

No one required a trip to the hospital, but authorities estimated damages to be at least $90,000.

A pest control company and a beekeeper who worked the scene told KSAT that none of the bees were recovered; they had either flown off or been killed by the foam. Carlos Espinosa, the owner of Vespid Pest Control, said he was told the truck had been coming from Florida to California.

Rick Fink, the president of the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association, who was not at the scene, believes the hives were likely on their way to help pollinate almond orchards.

“It’s about a six to eight-week time frame,” Fink said. “And they estimate 80 percent of all the commercial pollinating hives in the United States go to Southern California this time of year. So it’s a pretty good bet.

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Fink called the situation “unfortunate,” but does not blame the fire department, noting it was an emergency.

“It saddens me definitely from the standpoint of the loss of bees. You know, I’m glad no people were hurt, but it definitely saddens me from that standpoint,” Fink said.

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About the Authors:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for NewsChannel 20 in Springfield, Illinois.

Jonathan Cotto is a reporter for KSAT's Nightbeat. Jonathan speaks English and Spanish and is a veteran of the United States Navy. Previously, he worked in South Texas.