A swarm of bees caused chaos at Kolkata airport in India this week after settling on two jets, delaying both flights.
The bees first appeared on a Vistara plane on Sunday as it waited in a hangar before boarding, then reappeared the following morning on another jet in the same hanger.
On both occasions a fire truck had to be brought to spray down the jets and remove the bees, delaying each flight by around an hour.
A swarm of bees clamped themselves on a Vistara aircraft at Kolkata airport on Monday evening. A fire tender had to be brought in to get rid of the swarm. The flight got delayed by an hour because of this. pic.twitter.com/NBN5nK0TAV
— Amit Chaubey (@amits719) December 1, 2020
The swarm stopped baggage handlers from loading luggage on to the plane, as it settled just above the open cargo doors.
It is not clear exactly why the bees swarmed the aircraft, but swarms of honeybees typically swarm when they are moving nests.
Bees may move for two reasons: Either the original nest becomes nonviable due to disease, pests, or other environmental changes; or the colony outgrows the nest, in which case it will split in two with half the bees heading off to find a new home.
In either case, the worker bees will starve the queen down to the point where she is light enough to fly then accompany her to the new nesting site, according to information published by the University of California.
While swarming, bees may initially move to a resting site that is just a short distance from the original nest, while sending out scouts to find a new permanent home.
The temporary site may only be used for a few hours, or the bees may remain there for several days while the scouts explore.
Due to declining bee populations, particularly in the US and Europe, beekeepers urge people not to attack or spray the insects if they swarm.
Instead, people are asked to call professionals who can manually relocate the hive to a safer spot.