Seattle bee spill
Fire crews put on bee suits to clear the road of bee hives Jake Whittenberg

Seattle firefighters faced a race against the clock after a truck transporting 458 hives containing hundreds of colonies overturned releasing millions of bees onto the surrounding highway.

The truck had been carrying the bees when it overturned near Interstate 405 in the early hours of Friday morning, shutting down two lanes of traffic.

The bees remain relatively docile in the dark of evening but become more active and hence dangerous in the daylight.

The accident happened after the driver, who was not injured in the incident, reportedly blew a tyre as he got onto the highway.

Stacks of boxes could be seen strewn across the road with thousands of swarming bees nearby.

Many of the bees were killed in the accident and crews in beekeeper suits worked to clear the remaining bees before sunlight.

The driver of the truck told KING 5 that 80 percent of the bees will be cleared by sunrise.