Can Swarming Bees Interfere with Air Travel?

Bees on a Plane

Most people know that swarming bees is a natural occurrence and harmless. Bees swarming may be inconvenient if the location and timing are not ideal, like a birthday party at a park where bees seem to be during their swarm. However, bees hardly seem like they can cause too much disruption, but recently, these mighty little flyers proved to be quite powerful as they caused a significant delay in flight travel for some Delta passengers.

Swarming Bees May Be Normal, But Not On a Plane Wing!

Swarming happens when bees are out looking for a new home, often because they have outgrown their current space. Well, last week, the bees made headlines once again as they landed and clustered to the plane wing of a Delta flight waiting for passengers in Houston. The Delta flight was delayed for several hours as airport staff and workers tried to get the bees to move.

Since these occurrences are rare, there is always some hesitation on how best to handle the bees. Bees must be removed safely and not sprayed with toxic pesticides to kill them. As we have seen, bees are becoming more protected, and finding a safe way to get them off was the only option.

What was quite a sight this week, one of the Delta flight’s wings had tens of thousands of bees clinging on. As bees clung together to the plane’s wing, passengers were forced to wait until the giant swarm of bees was removed to board the plane. Many flyers did not understand the need to treat the situation with such care, assuming bees would leave the wing once in motion. However, passengers were told they could only board the flight once the bees were gone.

It seems that calling a beekeeper with experience and the necessary resources would be the best way to approach this situation. Little did they know that beekeepers were not allowed to touch the plane due to FAA regulations. Additionally, pest spray was not approved for the treatment of the bee activity. The Delta plane sat for hours. The airline tried other ways to encourage the bees to move on. One approach was to blow exhaust on the conglomerate of bees, but those watching from inside the terminal said the bees did not seem impressed. Worse, they didn’t budge.

Although some passengers were annoyed at the delay, it must have been entertaining to hear people trying to explain why they were not on time at their destinations. Eventually, several hours later, the bees seemed to shake loose as the plane moved away from the gate, empty. Starting the plane engines was enough to get the bees to continue elsewhere.

Hopefully, this will be remembered the next time bees swarm onto a plane wing at the airport. The last incidences were in 2017 and 2019, so hopefully, in another few years, people will note this event and remember that all they had to do was start the plane!

Why Would Bees Swarm on a Plane Wing?

Bee swarming, although predictable in the certainty that it does happen, is less predictable when it comes to when and where. Bees find spots during swarming that are in proximity to their new hive location. Bees swarm temporarily and often move on within hours but sometimes can stay put for a day or two. Regardless, bees are clearly vulnerable in these times and should be left alone when possible. If you encounter a hive or swarming that you need help dealing with, please do not hesitate to contact a reputable and experienced beekeeper. Whether in Los Angeles, Orange County, or San Diego, D-Tek Bee Removal is the best in the industry and can usually come to your business or home property on the same day you call! When swarming interrupts an event or your routine, D-Tek can safely and humanely use processes to get the bees to move to another location. It is critical to avoid trying to spray or get rid of swarming bees alone – do not put yourself at risk. Although swarming bees are not typically aggressive (they are not protecting a hive or their queen), there is danger in shooing thousands of bees from a location without the proper equipment and clothing.

Southern California will experience significant swarming activity this summer. The warmer weather and growing hive populations will result in bees seeking new homes. As Californians prepare, it is best to bee-proof your home or business property to discourage bees from settling there. If you need help with how to bee-proof, you can reach out to a local beekeeper and ask! Bees can get into small spaces, and the last place you want a new hive is on your roof, wall, or attic. If you suspect there is a hive on your property, do not hesitate to call for someone to come out and assess and make recommendations to remove it.