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Millions of honeybees bound for Alaska perished after their Delta Airline flight was rerouted through Georgia, where they were left in crates on the ground for hours on a hot tarmac.
The Delta plane was carrying an estimated 5 million bees, the first of two shipments ordered by Soldotna beekeeper Sarah McElrea, when it was bumped from its original flight plan and redirected to an airport in Atlanta. The crates were initially set to travel from Sacramento, Calif., to Anchorage Airport via Seattle.
But the bees did not fit on the Seattle-bound flight and were instead rerouted through the Delta hub.
Shortly after their arrival, airline officials told McElrea some of the bees had escaped and their needed to be placed outside. Immediately worried about Georgia’s sweltering temperatures, McElrea immediately reached out to a local beekeeper, who traveled to the airport and determined most of the bees had already died from the heat.
“The worst part about it for me is how they suffered, and there was not a single thing I could do about it,” McElrea told the New York Times.
In total, the shipment was made up of about 800 pounds of bees worth an estimated $48,000.
McElrea, who runs Sarah’s Alaska Honey, said the bees were meant to be distributed to more than 300 beekeepers across the state — where they are not native — and used to pollinate apple orchards and nurseries.
Delta spokeswoman Catherine Morrow in a statement on Friday said the airline “was made aware of the shipment situation … and quickly engaged the appropriate internal teams to assess the situation. We have taken immediate action to implement new measures to ensure events of this nature do not occur in the future.”
With News Wire Services