The swirling black cloud that Island Park, Idaho, residents saw earlier this week wasn’t a storm, but a swarm—of bees. A semitruck hauling bees and honey swerved off the road, tipping 400 hive boxes and sending 14 million bees and a river of honey onto the roadway. Crews brought in to clean up the highway sprayed the bees with firefighter’s foam, killing many of them.
Trucking hives across the country stems from the increasing difficulty of finding healthy honeybees. Beekeepers spread disease by moving infected combs and equipment from hive to hive and failing to treat illnesses. When diseases are detected, the treatment is normally to destroy the colony, which can mean burning or gassing the bees to death.
Since division of the hive upon the birth of a new queen can mean a decrease in honey production, beekeepers prevent it by clipping the wings of a new queen or killing and replacing a queen after a couple of years.
The best way to be a honey for bees is to choose vegan lip balms and candles and to use agave nectar, molasses, and maple syrup instead of honey. Find more tips on giving bee (and other animal) products the boot, see PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk’s book Making Kind Choices.
Written by Michelle Sherrow