Bees prevent Delta flight from takeoff


May 11, 2023

Passengers leaving Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to head to Atlanta, Ga., were delayed last week due to a group of bees.

A Delta flight out of the city had a group of bees that were hanging on one of the wings of the aircraft. It wasn’t just a couple dozen bees, a picture from Twitter user Anjali Enjeti shows a swarm of hundreds of bees that found shelter on the wing of the plane.

Check out the full Twitter thread:

Through Twitter, Enjeti described how the airline announced it was getting a beekeeper to remove the bees but later the captain said the beekeeper was not allowed to touch the plane, and a pest control company was not allowed to spray them off either.

After exhausting other bee-removal options and delaying the flight for about three hours, the airline said it was finally able to safely shake the bees loose by using some ground equipment.

Delta said “bee-lieve it or not,” this kind of swarming of bees upon an aircraft is rare, but not unheard of.

“I’ve taken bee swarms off of tugboats, airplanes, concrete walls,” said Mike Sexton, AKA The Bee Man.

He said during this time of year, bee swarms are more active.

“They usually start in the south, and they move toward the north,” Sexton said.

As the bees get tired along the way, they take a rest, which could be what happened on the plane’s wing.

“Whenever bee swarms start, they’re going to gorge themselves with a bunch of honey and the old queen is going to take off with a bunch of workers so they’re not going to eat again until they actually get to a new home … in the meantime they rest and conserve their energy, so they land on anything,” Sexton said.

Over in Sugar Land, Texas, beehives were actually built at Sugar Land Regional Airport’s undeveloped property after bees spent years using the airport as its residence.

The airport decided not to get rid of the bees in an effort to make a positive impact on the community and environment.

Each hive at the Sugar Land Regional Airport will house nearly 40,000 bees and pollinate around three to five acres of land, the city said.

About the Author

Ellen Wagner is a former digital editor for PMP magazine.

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