The Saratoga Sun -

Have bees, will travel

 


Jaime Martinez moves his hands in orbit around his head while miming swatting at invisible insects and says, “Don’t do that; if you do, they go crazy.”

Martinez, a truck driver, was talking about the thousands of bees that were swarming in a fluidic and brindled gray cloud around one of two trucks loaded with beehives that was passing through Rawlins Sept 28.

The trucks were parked along Cedar street, far from the restaurant that Martinez and the driver of the other truck stopped at, and far from anyone else. “We’re supposed to drive non-stop while the sun is out,” Martinez says. “But you can’t do that. You have to stop sometimes.”

When they stop, they need to find a place to park where innocent passers-by won’t get stung, he says.

“When the sun is down they go to sleep,” Martinez says. “That’s when we can stop and get fuel and things like that. During the day with them flying all over, we can’t go to the truck stop because people get stung.”

The bees are on their way from South Dakota to California, and are stacked in hives on the flatbed semi-trailer, the stacks of hives covered with mesh. Whenever they stopped during the day, some bees escape the mesh and sworm the trucks in a rolling gray cloud.

“They tell me that they are going out to look for water or something like that,” Martinez says.

About 20 percent of the bees are lost during shipment, according to Martinez.

“We don’t get to do this very much,” he says. “This is only the second time I have done it; the last time I took a load of bees to Florida.”

When asked how many times he’s been stung, he says he never has. “If you don’t let them know you’re afraid of them, they will leave you alone.”

Martinez says he needs to hit the road, and begins heading toward the orange semi he drives. He hops in, belts up and pulls away from the curb headed toward I-80 and California. As the two trucks pull away, a swirling fog of gray lingered behind, hovering over Cedar Street, slowly beginning to disperse in gradual, Brownian motion.

At a nearby intersection, one of a group of motorcyclists stopped at a red light begins swatting around his head and face to shoo the insects away, exactly what Martinez suggested not doing. The motorcycles pull away, none too soon, as the light turns green.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, the only person stung that day in Rawlins was a hapless—if not bold—newspaper reporter from Saratoga who got just a little too close trying to get pictures of the swarm, none of which actually turned out because he forgot to change the ISO setting on his camera.

Fortunately, he’s not allergic.

 

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