It was quite a sting operation.
Passengers aboard a Delta flight wondered what all the buzz was about when workers at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport swarmed to a wing.
They soon found out that a cluster of stowaway bees turned a wingtip into their home – delaying their departure to Atlanta by several hours on Wednesday.
“Bee-lieve it or not, Delta flight 1682 from Houston-Bush to Atlanta took a delay this afternoon after a friendly group of bees evidently wanted to talk shop with the winglet of our airplanes, no doubt to share the latest about flying conditions at the airport,” a Delta rep told the Houston Chronicle.
One of the 92 passengers provided a blow-by-blow account of the efforts to get rid of the pesky passengers.
“My flight leaving Houston is delayed because bees have congregated on the tip of one of the wings,” journalist and author Anjali Enjeti wrote on Twitter, where she posted photos and video of the bees.
“They won’t let us board until they remove the bees. But how on earth will this happen? Won’t they leave the wing when we take off?” she wrote.
“The gate agent just announced that they’re getting someone to come look at the bees. Who? Don’t we need a bee expert to identify the queen and remove her and won’t the rest follow?” Enjeti continued.
“Oh no they’re getting pest control! Sheesh they’re going to kill them. Can’t we just take off with the bees and they’ll leave on their own?” she wondered.
The passenger expressed her relief that a beekeeper was summoned – but then said the captain nixed the plan because a beekeeper was not allowed to touch the plane.
Making matters worse, the captain said the “airport does not have a hose to spray them off with water” and that firefighters can’t respond.
“The new plan: captain says he’s going to taxi the plane and hope the bees leave it! He’s not optimistic though. But if they do leave we’ll board,” she wrote.
It was then touch and go for a while.
“Somebody started walking out to the plane’s wing with a hose. People at the gate cheered. Hose person then retreated with the hose. Everyone at gate sighed,” she wrote.
At another point, Enjeti said they tried to blow exhaust on the swarm.
“Bees were not impressed,” she wrote.
“Omg y’all. Entire the flight crew deplaned. Delta decided to give our gate to another flight. As soon as our plane’s engine turned on, THE BEES LEFT!!! All Delta had to do was TURN ON THE PLANE,” she wrote.
The flight, which was scheduled to depart at 12:25 p.m., finally took to the sky about 4:30 p.m.
Mike Sexton, also known as The Bee Man, told KHOU that he has “taken bee swarms off of tugboats, airplanes, concrete walls.” He said bee swarms are more active this time of year.
“They usually start in the South and they move towards the North,” Sexton said.
As they grow tired along the way, they stop for a rest, which could be what happened on the Delta 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, so in the meantime they rest and conserve their energy, so they land on anything,” Sexton said.
Enjeti was relieved when she finally arrived in Atlanta.