Many bees were still swarming in an area just outside of Mt. Juliet, nearly 24 hours after a semi truck hauling several hundred beehives rolled over in Wilson County.
The crash happened around 1:30 p.m. Monday in a rural area near 1842 Posey Hill Road, about three miles sound of the Beckwith Road interchange with Interstate 40.
The driver of the truck told first responders that his GPS took him the wrong direction, putting him on the small Mt. Juliet road.
Wilson County Sheriff Robert Bryan said the semi was hauling 420 beehives. Several beehives escaped and were swarming around the truck, making it difficult for emergency crews to get to the driver trapped inside the semi cab.
Nick Beres: NewsChannel 5's Own Beekeeper
NewsChannel 5's own reporter Nick Beres, who is a part time beekeeper, went live on Facebook from the scene of the crash.
“I heard that it turned over and out of more or less curiosity, I just run over here to see what they had.”
Beekeepers responded to the area to assist deputies in controlling the swarming bees. Between 20,000 and 60,000 bees were said to be in each hive. With 450 hives, there were several million bees to contain.
Preston Poteete, who said he's been keeping bees since he was a boy, was one of the first people on the scene.
“A boy called me and said a truck had turned over and we run over here to look at it," he said. "I walked down there and checked and they had bees busted open all over the ground, all up in the truck and everywhere.”
In addition to swarming bees, officials also had to deal with diesel fuel leaking from the truck.
Posey Hill Road was closed for more than 12 hours while crews worked to secure the scene. People with bee allergies were advised to avoid the area.
— Matthew Torres (@NC5_MTorres) March 8, 2016
Crews had to unload all the hives before pulling the trailer upright. Because of the number of bees, officials said the work could not be done quickly.
"We didn’t realize it was a load of bees."
Chris Barber with Independent Towing was one of many who responded to the scene.
“We got here yesterday afternoon and we didn’t realize it was a load of bees and obviously they weren’t really happy about being flipped over,” said Barber.
Barber and his crew had to be suited up to work the crash. However, it wasn’t enough to keep them from getting stung.
Chris Barber with Independent Towing says he was stung many times as he removed an overturned tractor trailer hauling more than 25 million bees in Mount Juliet. Posey Hill Road has reopened after being shut down for almost 15 hours and Barber couldn't be more excited to get out of his bee suit.
Posted by NC5_MatthewTorres on Tuesday, March 8, 2016
“The bees got in our suits and our crew suffered a lot of damage,” he added.
When asked how he would get rid of all the bees on his truck, Barber joked he’d “go about 90 [mph] on I-40. They’ll come off.”