May 3, 2022 - News

Millions of bees die on tarmac at Atlanta airport

Illustration of a bee sweating and overheating.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Several beekeepers around metro Atlanta recently put their skills to the test to rescue thousands of bees that were stranded and dying at the world’s busiest airport.

What happened: Beekeeper Sarah McElrea, who runs Sarah’s Alaska Honey, told the New York Times that she purchased about 80 pounds of bees from Sacramento to pollinate orchids and nurseries in Alaska.

The bees were originally scheduled to fly to Anchorage from Sacramento last month, but were diverted to Atlanta after flight delays.

  • They were initially kept in a cooler, but on Sunday, April 24, their containers were moved outside to the tarmac at Hartsfield-Jackson, the beekeeper told the Times.
  • The sun was “baking down on the containers” at the airport, and some of the bees began to escape and die from the heat, according to WABE.
  • Most of the 5 million bees died that day from heat exposure.

The Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association said on Facebook that McElrea called the organization for assistance, but said they were not able to save most of the bees.

  • Edward Morgan, a member of the association, also told the Times that some of the containers were placed upside down so the bees were unable to get their food.
  • They decided the best plan was for area beekeepers to come to the airport and collect as many as they could.

Delta Air Lines told Alaska Public Media that it was working to make sure “something similar does not happen again.”

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