Colossal Wildlife Loss: Millions of Bees Die in Delta Air Lines Shipping Mishap

Wildlife seems to be having the hardest time amid human-induced global warming, what with wildfires, droughts, and relentless deforestation. The recent blow came when millions of bees died after Delta Air Lines shipping mishap due to human irresponsibility and hot weather.

Reportedly, Alaska beekeeper Sarah McElrea ordered two shipments of honeybees from a distributor in California. The first shipment contained about 5 million bees, which were diverted by Delta Air Lines to Atlanta, where most of them died after being left out for hours in crates on the hot ground. The bees were to be employed in the pollination of apple orchards and nurseries in Alaska, where they are not common.

Alaska Public Media revealed that the bees were rerouted from their original course to Anchorage, Alaska, and placed on a flight to Atlanta, where they were put on hold to be moved to an Anchorage-bound plane. McElrea said that she got worried when the shipment didn’t arrive in time to make the connecting flight to its final destination. She was told by Delta that some bees had escaped and her shipment crated were put outside. At 83 degrees Fahrenheit, the fate of the bees was sealed.

Millions of Bees Die in Delta Air Lines Shipping Mishap

Image: Matthew Pearson

The following day, McElrea asked a friend beekeeper in Atlanta to go and check on her shipment, who discovered that most of the bees had lost their lives from the exposure to heat. While Delta called it an “unfortunate situation,” it was a massive wildlife loss.

Delta spokeswoman Catherine Morrow told The Associated Press that 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.”

McElrea runs a business called Sarah’s Alaska Honey, and had previously received shipments of bees on Delta from Sacramento, California, to Anchorage via Seattle several times. The blunder of this shipment has left her heartbroken. She said;

People don’t grasp just how dependent we as a species are on honeybees for pollination. And this is just such a waste, an absolute tragedy… The worst part about it for me is how they suffered, and there was not a single thing I could do about it.

As honeybees are not indigenous to Alaska, McElrea sells many of the bees she imports to locals to help use in pollination services. In recent times, commercial migratory pollination has become crucial to agriculture in many regions across the world as pesticides have destroyed the world’s native pollinators.

The remaining pollinators were distributed to a handful of beekeepers in Atlanta in order to save them the cruel fate their fellow bees suffered. Although air transport of live animals contains several risks, this mishap is only credited to the carelessness of the airlines.

Via: CBS News

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