"The whole situation is tragic": About a million bees died when left on a hot UPS truck for weeks

Most of more than a million bees shipped by a Pennsylvania distributor died when they were left on a hot UPS truck for weeks, CBS Boston reports.

The station says it was too late to save them when a beekeeper was finally called in on Wednesday.

And Anita Deeley, a former Massachusetts Department of Agriculture inspector and a beekeeper, told CBS Boston, "Almost all of them could have been saved if they called someone right away."

The bees were shipped by Mann Lake Ltd., of Wilkes-Barre, to beekeepers in New England, but UPS says the bees were in faulty packaging and were held up in the Boston suburb of Shrewsbury.

"We have been working with the customer over the last couple of weeks, making multiple attempts with local beekeepers to safely contain and move the bees," UPS said.

But Deeley said the whole situation is tragic because the bees didn't have to die.

"The best thing that could have happened would have been if a bee rescuer was called right away to come in and deal with it," she observed. "Then, not only the escaped bees could have been rescued, but also the bees in the packages.

Deeley explained to CBS Boston that bees only have enough food to live in shipped boxes for a few days.

"It's really, really sad," Deeley said. "Honeybees are dying in society. It's really sad and it's also really disappointing for new beekeepers who ordered bees in the mail and were not to be able to get them."

The beekeeper UPS brought in to rescue them worked to relocate and release the survivors.

"Bees are really gentle, they normally don't want to sting you," Deeley explained. "They're really, really important pollinators. They pollinate about one third of food that we eat. Without bees, we wouldn't have most of the fruits and vegetables that you see on your table They are very important for our eco-system."

Mann Lake told CBS Boston it cares about bees and is looking into all aspects of the situation.

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