Flight Delayed Three Hours Due to Bees Swarming on Plane’s Wing

bee swarm airplane

Recently, a swarm of bees attached to the wing of a Houston, Texas commercial plane. The event delayed the plane’s departure to Atlanta, Georgia by roughly three hours. Despite the frustrations of travelers, airline officials managed to turn the inconvenience into something fun.

How Did Airline Officials Turn a Negative Situation Into a Positive?

In a statement to USA Today, Delta spokesperson Morgan Durrant said, “Bee-lieve it or not, Delta flight 1682 on May 3 from Houston-Bush to Atlanta took a delay after a friendly group of bees evidently wanted to talk shop with the winglet of one of our airplanes, no doubt to share the latest about flying conditions at the airport.”

Most agree that Durrant’s sense of humor regarding the situation was a better alternative to profuse, pandering apologies for something that the airline had no control over. It did not wish to take measures that would harm the bees.

How Did the Airline Take Care of the Bee Dilemma?

bee swarm airplane
Photo Credit: Karl Callwood via Unsplash

Around 11:30 a.m, as passengers were preparing to board the plane, a swarm of bees gathered atop one of the Airbus A320’s winglets, which are used to reduce drag. Functioning winglets are essential for a safe plane ride.

Passengers were angry that they were unable to board the plane until the dilemma was taken care of. Among them was journalist Anjali Enjeti, who live-tweeted the incident, her posts racking up thousands of likes and retweets. 

Enteji’s tweets document the airline’s attempts to rid the winglet of the bee swarm. First, they called in a beekeeper, who they soon realized was not authorized to touch the plane. The captain then taxied the plane, but the bees would not move.

The problem resolved itself when the airline decided to relinquish the gate to another flight. When the captain began to move the plane in order to make room, the bees dissipated on their own volition.

Is a Bee Swarm at an Airport a Common Occurrence?

While bees generally stay away from airports, this is not the first time such an incident has occurred. For example, in September of 2019, bees landed on the cockpit glass of an Air India plane. The airline’s solution was to blast them with water cannons. 

In September of 2018, around 20,000 bees gathered within the engine of a plane in South Africa, delaying three of the airline’s flights. A palm frond was used to move the bees.

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