After Delta Airlines mishandled 200 packages containing approximately 10,000 bees each, local Atlanta beekeeper Edward Morgan Jr. came to the rescue.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 3, 2022. It has since been updated.
Edward Morgan Jr. has been part of the beekeeping business for about four years. In May 2022, he received an urgent call from a stranger. A fellow beekeeper from Alaska did not know what to do when she realized the 200 packages of bees she had ordered were missing. The packages, containing nearly 10,000 bees each, were supposed to be shipped directly to her from California to Anchorage. They had instead found their way to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, more than 3,000 miles from where they were supposed to be. To save as many bees as he could, Morgan Jr. loaded up his truck and dashed to the scene, CNN reports.
Edward Morgan Jr. was part of a massive rescue mission this week -- one involving thousands of bees https://t.co/rxQpUuqlgz— CNN (@CNN) April 30, 2022
"It was shocking," he said in an interview with the news outlet. "The lady calls me out of the blue and she's like, 'I don't know you, you don't know me, but I need your help.'" She explained that the bees could not make it onto the Delta Airlines flight as some of them had gotten out of their packages. To make matters worse, while waiting in the Atlanta heat, the "vast majority" of the bees died (Metro Atlanta weather reached a high of 80 degrees Fahrenheit that day). After receiving the information, Morgan Jr. rushed to the airport as quickly as he could.
Please share. We can't be losing our bee friends. https://t.co/3mDMTyh9XZ— Jessica Rose (@JesslovesMJK) May 2, 2022
When he arrived, he found many bees dead and others starving. He also learned that the flight the remaining bees were scheduled to be on would only depart on a Monday afternoon. He stated, "There was no way they were going to make it because it was still hot in Atlanta and then you gotta go through another day of that." After consulting with the beekeeper who reached out to him, they agreed that transporting the bees was no longer an option. Instead, he began selling the bees in the Atlanta area. With help from the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association, where Morgan Jr. is a board member, people began showing up at the airport to take the surviving bees home and hive them. Morgan Jr. revealed that it was the best decision to help keep the bees alive.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, some of the folks waiting to receive the bees they had ordered were distraught to hear the news. Steve Estes and his wife were among them. They were supposed to receive two packages of bees. The husband and wife had already prepared their bee barn for the bees' arrival. Estes shared, "The bees are somewhat like pets to us, part of our family." According to a spokesperson from Delta Airlines, the company has taken "immediate action to implement new measures" to ensure nothing similar happens again. They added, "We have been in contact with the customer directly to apologize for this unfortunate situation."
Delta Air Lines diverted a shipment of five million honeybees bound for Alaska to Atlanta and left the bee shipment out on a hot tarmac. Local beekeepers tried to come to the rescue, but very few survived. “This is just such a waste, an absolute tragedy.” https://t.co/Zc3dRi3XkB— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 1, 2022