It never ceases to amaze us how ignorant big business can be when it comes to the honey bee. Earlier this year, the San Diego Padres used an exterminator to remove a bee swarm that showed up on the field prior to a game. Air India chose a similar tack when a swarm of bees formed on the plane. Instead of an exterminator, the airline chose to use water cannons to wipe out the swarm.
Dealing with Delays
While we respect the fact airlines want to keep their schedules, blasting a swarm of bees, especially in the midst of a crisis, with water cannons is inexcusable. What really makes this decision baffling is the fact the flight was already delayed, so a few more minutes to call in a beekeeper to properly remove the bees would not have made all that much of a difference and it would have saved the airline a ton of bad press.
In addition to the bees, the plane had a technical problem that caused a major delay. According to Kolkata Airport Director Kaushik Bhattacharjee, “The plane left the parking bay at its scheduled departure time, then there was a technical issue and it had to return back to the parking bay. There was a delay of 1.5 hours due to the ground staff attending to the technical fault.
“After that, there was a bee attack. A swarm of honeybees came and landed on one section of the cockpit glass. Thousands of bees just sat on the left side of the cockpit window blocking the view of the pilot. The pilot tried to remove the bees by using windscreen wipers but it didn’t work. Airline staff informed the airport authorities and we deployed a fire tender from the fire station located inside the airport. Using a water cannon, they dispersed the bees.”
Perhaps saving the bees was not a priority because there was a VIP aboard, Hasan Mahmud, a Bangladeshi politician. Or, more likely, the maintenance crew was ignorant to the current plight of the honey bee. Ironically, this airport is considered a modern marvel and has green initiatives in place, including solar panels to generate power.
Airport officials stated they did a significant check of the area to see if there were any hives, but they could not find anything. What they probably do not realize, though, is that they probably just wiped out a hive that was looking for more space, as bees will swarm when their old digs can no longer house the colony. Either that or a new hive was being formed with a virgin queen. Either way, the airline should have called in a beekeeping service for the removal rather than blasting the bees with high-pressure water cannons.