Angry bees keep rescuers on watch at fatal crash

LIVE power lines and a large number of agitated bees are posing problems for motorists and emergency services following a fatal crash in New Zealand this morning.

The man who died was driving a ute carrying beehives which overturned when it smashed into power pole on State Highway 29 near Matamata.

Acting senior sergeant Dale Smith of Waikato Police said the crash occurred about 1.45am, and was first noticed by a truck driver who realised the ute had disappeared from the road behind him.

"The driver of the truck and trailer unit noticed a large utility pull in behind him from a lay-by and follow him over the Kaimais, the vehicle then continued to tail him through Te Poi when he noticed a bright flash in his rear view mirror.

"Turning his truck and trailer unit around, the driver found a severely damaged utility upside down with a power pole fallen on top of it,'' Mr Smith said.

"To compound issues, not only were there live power lines posing a risk, the utility had been carrying a load of beehives and the inhabitants of these hives were understandably agitated.''

Emergency services staff worked with power company employees to make the scene safe enough for emergency services to treat the driver, however he could not be saved, Mr Smith said.

The driver was the only person involved in the crash.

"State Highway 29 is expected to be closed for several hours as work goes on to recover the driver's body and remove the vehicle and smashed power pole,'' he said.

"An off duty police officer, who is also a beekeeper, has been bought in to assist with the recovery of the hives with several of the attending emergency service personnel having experienced several stings.''

Drivers travelling between Tauranga and Hamilton should expect delays, Mr Smith said.

Diversions are in place to the west of Te Poi, via Rangitunuku Rd and west of the village via State Highway 24/Tauranga Rd.

This morning's fatality brings the Waikato road toll to 20 compared to 43 at the same point last year.