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Millions of bees remain on the loose in Silver Creek Canyon

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Julie Arthur - Wasatch Beekeeper Association
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A local beekeeper works to save hives after a semi-truck crashed on eastbound I-80 Monday morning. Between 20 million and 30 million bees swarmed the area after the accident.

A semi-truck overturned yesterday carrying 200 beehives. Millions of bees are in the Rail Trail area in Silver Creek Canyon while emergency crews work on next steps.

On Monday evening Summit County officials warned the public to stay off the rail trail near milepost 149 in Silver Creek Canyon.

According to a statement, millions of bees are swarming the area and could pose a danger to anyone walking, biking or riding through the Silver Creek section of the Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail through July 4th.

The truck was traveling east on I-80 on a curved stretch that has seen multiple westbound truck rollovers this year. Lieutenant Randall Richie of Utah Highway Patrol said the truck’s driver and passenger were hospitalized for multiple bee stings and minor injuries.

Richie said foam was initially used to spray bees so that officers and the Park City Fire Department could clear the lane. He said his officers were surprised by thousands of bees when they arrived on the scene.

He said trucks carrying hazardous materials are usually marked, but this truck had no hazardous materials sign. One deputy was able to go home and bring his beekeeper suit to help clear the area.

Julie Arthur, President of the Wasatch Beekeepers Association, was asked to help with the situation. She said it was a commercial truck that was coming back from pollination in California and headed to North Dakota.

“It's called migratory beekeeping," she said. "So they basically truck truckloads of bees around the country to pollinate our crops, you know, because without pollination, you have no produce in your grocery store.”

Arthur said a single healthy colony will have 50,000 to 100,000 bees in it, “And so if you consider there were 200 to 250 colonies on that truck. Yeah, you're talking millions and millions of bees were there yesterday.”

While honeybees aren’t usually aggressive, when their colony is destroyed and the queen is gone, they get angry.

“I was stung probably 20 times. And I mean, I had a bee suit on," Arthur said. "But they were angry enough that they- when bees want to sting you, they will crawl down your sleeves, they were crawling up my top, you know, they'll crawl in anywhere that they can find a sting you so mostly in the legs because I usually don't wear bee pants. I just had on thick jeans and that you know, so those things aren't as bad when you have on thicker pants.”

Arthur wasn’t the only beekeeper on the scene. When word got out about the crash several beekeepers from the area came out to help. She said 20-30 hives were saved.

She said if people see a swarm of bees in the area, contact Wasatch Beekeepers Association. A beekeeper will come out to collect the swarm.

Andrea moved to Park City in 2017 with two huskies, two kids and one husband… not in that order. Prior to working at KPCW, she spent decades in the entertainment industry – and racked up a few awards in the process for her work on “Behind the Music” and most recently for a film she produced for Lifetime, “Somebody’s Child: The Regina Louise Story.” She was featured on “Good Morning America” twice for her books which made best sellers lists in Dallas and Denver. She’s still hoping to write one that hits The New York Times list. She loves taking photos, loves the mountains, especially the fall, and is excited to be working with the amazing team at KPCW.