A semi truck full of honey bees overturned, blocking the...

A semi truck full of honey bees overturned, blocking the two left lanes and releasing a huge amount of bees around the freeway in Lynbrook, Wash. Credit: Washington State Dept. of Transportation

A semitruck carrying honeybees scattered hundreds of hives when it overturned early Friday on a highway north of Seattle.

The truck had just merged onto Interstate 5 around 3:30 a.m. Friday when it tipped on its side, dumping its load of 448 hives, Washington State Patrol Trooper Travis Shearer said. The driver was not hurt.

The company that owns the insects, Belleville Honey and Beekeeping Supply of Burlington, sent beekeepers to recover as many as possible.

But the bees became more active as the sun rose and the weather warmed, and Seattle television stations reported that firefighters sprayed a layer of foam on some of the boxes, killing the bees for safety.

Shearer said he heard that some of the firefighters had been stung. He urged drivers to keep their windows up and to "#beesafe when traveling through that area," as he wrote on Twitter.

It was going to take until at least late morning before the accident was cleared, Shearer said.

"We can't even start to recover and roll that semi back over until the bees are all cleaned up," he said.

The insects covered beekeepers' white protective suits as they worked.

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