It’s not snakes on a plane, but for some, it might be even worse. A swarm of 20,000 bees descended on a Mango Airlines plane in Durban’s King Shaka International Airport on Monday before takeoff, completely occupying the jet engine and causing lengthy delays.
Perhaps the bees thought the Mango Airlines plane was an actual mango. Or maybe they were attracted to its bright orange color. The reason for the bee siege is unclear, but once it was noticed, airline officials quickly called in professional beekeepers to handle the situation.
Mango Airlines posted a photo of the heroes in action on Twitter:
Two beekeepers were called into remove a swarm of bees that had started building a nest in the engine of one of our aircrafts in Durban on Sunday. This unfortunately meant delays on three of our scheduled flights. The bees were safely removed.#flymangopic.twitter.com/XbzSNLALZV
Although the odds were certainly not in their favor, the two beekeepers sprung into action. To make matters worse, they weren’t allowed to use their normal smoker device to disperse the bees, given safety concerns surrounding the plane. Handicapped by this new obstacle, the beekeepers improvised a new weapon — a palm frond, which they used to gently coax the bees away from the engine.
One of the beekeepers, Melvyn Dawson, told Lonely Planet that despite having worked with bees for almost 55 years, removing them from a jet engine was “a first for me.” Upon removal, the bees were transferred to a beehive.
While it’s still unknown why the bees chose to make the engine their temporary home — usually they prefer quieter, more sheltered areas — it’s possible that they were simply stopping there en route to somewhere else. Hopefully next time, they’ll wait in line for boarding like everyone else.