When Sarah McElrea arrived at the Anchorage airport last Friday to pick up the 800 pounds of honeybees she was having shipped from Sacramento, she got the first sense of a disaster in the making: The bees — some five million of them — were in Atlanta, not Anchorage.
The 200 crates of bees were the first of two shipments coming in from Sacramento designated for more than 300 beekeepers in Alaska and to provide much needed pollination services for apple orchards and nurseries, she said in an interview.
Previous honeybee shipments had made their way to Alaska aboard Delta Air Lines flights from Sacramento to Seattle and then on to Anchorage, a route Ms. McElrea has used many times.
But this shipment, the airline told her, did not fit aboard the Seattle-bound flight and instead had been rerouted through the Delta hub in Atlanta.
The bees would complete their circuitous, cross-country journey to Anchorage on Saturday.
Ms. McElrea was worried, considering that shipping bees comes with certain complications: The bees must be fed along the way (generally sugar water), and they must be kept cool.
Her concerns were well-placed — millions of the bees would die. »