Nearly 5 Million Honeybees Die After Being Left on Hot Tarmac by Delta Air Lines
“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.
Millions of honeybees, bound for Anchorage, Alaska, perished from heat and starvation after Delta Air Lines re-routed their flight through Atlanta, Georgia, and left them exposed on a hot tarmac for several hours.
Beekeeper Sarah McElrea had ordered two shipments of honeybees, which are not native to Alaska, from a distributor in California, intending to have them assist in pollinating a variety of apple orchards and nurseries.
McElrea was concerned after being informed by Delta that the shipment didn’t fit, and would need to be re-routed. She was also notified that the bees had been removed from their protective cooler and placed on the tarmac because some had allegedly escaped from their crates. After contacting the Metro Atlanta Beekeeper’s Association, McElrea connected with organization member Edward Morgan, who subsequently drove to the airport to inspect the situation.
“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. “People don’t grasp just how dependent we as a species are on honeybees for pollination. And this is just a waste, an absolute tragedy,” she added.
Delta spokesperson Catherine Morrow said in an email that the company has “engaged the appropriate internal teams to take immediate action to ensure events of this nature do not occur in the future.”
NBC reported that McElrea’s shipment, which cost approximately $48,000, will be replaced by her supplier in California.