Local beekeepers scramble to rescue millions of dying bees from Atlanta airport tarmac

ATLANTA — Metro Atlanta beekeepers scrambled to try to rescue millions of dying bees that were left on the tarmac at Atlanta’s airport in the heat this weekend.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

Two hundred packages of bees were supposed to be flown directly from Sacramento, CA, to Anchorage, Alaska, four days ago, but somehow ended up at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to the Metro Atlanta Beekeeper’s Association.

After four days, the bees started to escape and workers took the cargo containers outside in the heat, WABE reported.

The person who was supposed to get the bees reached out to local beekeeper Edward Morgan.

“She said, ‘You don’t know me, I got your number from a Facebook group, but I need you to go to the airport to rescue my bees,’” he said.

Morgan headed to the airport, not sure what to expect, and went to the Delta cargo area.

“I started opening them up, and I saw that in at least 10 of the packages the bees were dead,” he said. “It was devastating just to see dead bees sitting in a can.”

The airline told the beekeeper in Alaska the soonest they could fly out was the next day.

“I said, ‘What time are they supposed to ship out on Monday?’ She said 3 p.m. I said, these bees are not going to make it,” Morgan said.

That’s when Morgan suggested giving away the bees here locally. He made a call and some social media posts.

“It was eye opening how fast people mobilized to save these bees,” he said.

Within one hour at least 25 beekeepers showed up.


“Because people rallied very quickly, we were able to save those bees, and those bees are across the state now. People came from everywhere,” Morgan said.

Many of the bees were saved thanks to the quick response of the bee community.

“People have been congratulating me and saying that I’m a hero, and I’ve been saying, I actually was just going to make some money,’” Morgan said. “After I saw what was happening I said don’t even worry about the fee because I saved some bees.”

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Sadly, the vast majority of the bees died in the heat, but several thousand were rescued, according to the MABA.