On Friday, boxes containing nearly 14 million live honeybees were scattered across northbound Interstate 5 near Lynnwood, Washington, after a semi-truck was overturned, reports The Seattle Times.
The driver was not injured, but several of the bees, which had just returned from pollinating apple orchards and were en route to a blueberry farm, either escaped or were killed.
The 458 hives, carrying 14 million bees from Belleville Farms in Burlington, Washington, were worth approximately $92,000.
Responders to the crash, outfitted in beekeeping suits, saved 128 hives in total.
The honeybees, whose numbers are already in steep decline, provide critical services for farmers who need crop pollinators. The hives would have provided pollination for farms all along the West Coast, including California’s lucrative almond farms.
“We have a fairly large agricultural industry in Washington state,” Mark Emrich, president of the Washington State Beekeepers Association, told The Seattle Times. “It just kind of goes hand in hand with the amount of farming.”