Bees swarm, sting at Calif. crash scene

Four Rancho Cucamonga firefighters and the two people inside a truck were stung by bees immediately after the collision


By Lori Consalvo
The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

RANCHO CUCAMONGA, Calif. — Swarms of bees invaded a Haven Avenue intersection for 18 hours Sunday night and Monday after a commercial truck carrying boxes of bee hives collided with another vehicle.

Employees with the West Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District spent Monday morning cleaning up crates and honey — and trapping the bees — left over from Sunday night's head-on collision.

Four Rancho Cucamonga firefighters and the two people inside the commercial truck were stung by bees immediately after the collision. But by Monday morning the insects, which were still swarming the shopping plaza near the collision, were no longer a threat.

"The bees are not aggressive at all," said Robert Real, operations director with vector control, while overseeing the cleanup.

What concerned officials more was the sticky substance spilled during the collision. Honey — which had the potential to attract even more bees from throughout the area — had to be cleaned up quickly, Real said.

"Honey is like money to (bees)," Real said.

Firefighters used high-powered hoses to wash down the collision site near the CVS pharmacy at the corner of Alta Loma Drive. Vector control employees needed about 2 1/2 hours to remove the bee hives and crates.

Once everything was cleaned up Monday, staff placed traps in the area.

"The traps will collect whatever's left over," Real said. "They could (gather) several hundred bees."

It was about 7:30 p.m. Sunday when the bee keeper company's commercial truck collided with another truck.

A light pole was knocked down, the landscaping near the sidewalk was destroyed and the hives were scattered all over the roadway, said Kelley Donaldson, spokeswoman for the Rancho Cucamonga Fire Protection District.

A forklift carried by the commercial truck was also dropped into traffic lanes, adding to the chaos, she said.

Fighters at the scene donned bee hoods and used duct tape to secure their turn-out coats to stop the insects from getting to their skin. They sprayed a mixture of water and foam to restrain the bees.

The driver and a passenger from the commercial truck were taken to a local hospital for bee sting treatments. The driver of the second truck was treated at the scene, Donaldson said. No other injuries were reported.

After the collision, firefighters evacuated near-by businesses, including those inside a shopping plaza across the street.

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