WAYNE — A tow truck driver who responded to a call Wednesday had no idea the broken-down truck was hauling bees, and no idea he’d end up taking an ambulance ride to the hospital with an allergic reaction to a sting.
Jason Small, a driver for Auburn-based Don’s No Preference Towing, got a call to tow a flatbed truck from the parking lot of the Wayne fire station on Route 133.
“No one told us they were hauling bees or anything like that. We were under the assumption it was just another tow truck,” Small said from the tow company’s garage Wednesday afternoon after he returned to work from the hospital. “I tried to load it up and all of a sudden there were thousands of bees everywhere.”
He said the bees were out of control.
“It was a scary thing for me.”
Small said he didn’t know he was allergic to bee stings, but when one stung him he lost all feeling in the arm where he was stung, momentarily lost his vision and began to “sweat like crazy.”
“I could feel my body trying to shut down,” he said.
Small said he got back into his truck and the bees appeared to be dive-bombing the windows. He said there were so many bees swarming that he could barely see the truck behind him that he’d been sent to tow.
He called his boss to let her know what happened, then 911 for help.
A Winthrop Ambulance crew took him to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, where he was treated and released. He returned to work, but said he still felt a bit woozy from the medication.
Small said he wanted to thank the ambulance crew and staff at the hospital, crediting them with saving his life.
He said when people are having their vehicles towed they should tell the tow company if there is something like bees on or around the vehicle. He said there did not appear to be hives or anything else on the truck’s flatbed when he arrived, and he speculated the bees were lingering on or near the truck when he went to hook up to tow it.
A representative of the company that owns the bee-carrying truck, Sumner-based Craig Andrews, was not available for comment Wednesday.
Fire Chief Bruce Mercier said the truck carrying bees broke down Tuesday night. He said before the truck was towed another truck took the bees away. But, he said, some bees couldn’t be captured. “Some of the bees didn’t leave with the other truck. There were quite a number of them around,” Mercier said.
Mercier said that after the incident with the tow truck driver, firefighters got someone who knows how to handle bees remove most of the rest of them, though some remained in the area around the fire station. A hive was left at the site in hopes of collecting more.
The truck was removed later Wednesday by Flaherty’s Garage of Monmouth.
Mercier said residents shouldn’t be concerned about the bees or avoid the area around the fire station. He said experts said the bees were honeybees and were upset because they were without a queen to follow. He said most of the remaining bees will likely disperse, and if people don’t swat at them, the bees will leave them alone.
Mercier said firefighters and others were initially kept away from the scene to prevent anyone else from getting stung, but overall the incident was no big deal.
Honeybees are commonly used in agriculture to pollinate crops, such as blueberries. Beekeepers transport their hives to different farms, which rely on them to pollinate crops.
Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at firstname.lastname@example.org