( dpa ) - In a scene reminiscent of a Hollywood horror film, millions of honey bees escaped from their crates during transportation and swarmed over a major California highway, causing havoc as they stung drivers, media reports said Monday.
The ordeal lasted seven hours before beekeepers using smoke managed to return them to their hives and load them back on trucks.
The incident occurred near Sacramento Sunday when a truck carrying between 6 million and 16 million pollinating bees flipped on its side and let loose its cargo.
"There was somewhere between six (million) and 16 million of them running around out there," Officer Steve Merchant of the California Highway Patrol told broadcaster CNN. "People were being stung left and right. It was an ugly, ugly scene."
The angry bees stung the policemen and firefighters who tried to corral them. They prompted authorities to warn drivers to roll up their windows and turn off their air conditioning to prevent bees getting sucked in, and they forced local businesses to close their doors.
The situation was only resolved after expert bee-handlers were brought in and used smoke to calm the bees and coax them back into their colonies. The bees had likely been used to help pollinate an almond orchard in the city, the Sacramento Bee newspaper said.