Angry bees hold back police

Emergency services attending a fatal crash this morning were held back by a swarm of angry bees.

A man driving a ute carrying beehives died after the vehicle hit a power pole and overturned near Matamata shortly before 2am.

Police and emergency services arriving at the scene of the crash, which occurred on State Highway 29, were confronted by the bees and live powerlines.

The bees were "understandably agitated," said Acting Senior Sergeant Dale Smith.

Emergency personnel had suffered "several" stings, he said.

An off-duty police officer, who was also a beekeeper, had been brought in to assist with the recovery of the hives.

Smith said a "sharp-eyed" truck driver was to be credited for calling emergency services following the crash.

The truck driver said he noticed a large vehicle following him which suddenly "flashed" as it collided with a power pole.

After turning his truck and trailer unit around, he returned to the scene and called 111.

Power company employees attended the scene and made it safe for police.

The swarm meant the scene would not be cleared for several hours, Smith said.

Diversions and cordons were place at the intersections of State Highway 29 and Te Poi township, and SH29 and Rangitanuku Rd, but the road was reopened to one lane at 7.15am.

The dead man's name was expected to be released today.

Matamata Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Kevin Curtis said they were called as a precautionary measure because of the downed power lines.

He said the crash occurred on a straight stretch of highway.

''It's unfortunate so near to Christmas that's for sure.''

The police serious crash unit was investigating.