updated 12/16/2004 10:58:35 AM ET 2004-12-16T15:58:35

A truck carrying 12 million honeybees hit a wall on a highway ramp, dumping its load across the pavement shortly before the evening rush hour.

The truck was carrying 480 bee colonies, each with 25,000 insects, to California to pollinate the state’s almond crop when it struck the wall Wednesday afternoon.

The collision spilled the bees and gallons of honey onto the highway and forced troopers to close the southbound ramp between Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95 for more than four hours.

State police believe the driver lost control on the curving ramp.

Authorities summoned beekeepers to help but decided capturing the bees alive would take too much time and money. Firefighters doused the insects with water to kill them.

“We’re talking millions of bees,” said Don Grogan, owner of Sedona Honey Co. in Las Vegas, who was helping with the cleanup. “And tomorrow they’ll all be dead. ... It breaks my heart.”

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