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Bees on a plane: Delta flight delayed after massive swarm of bees latches onto plane's wing for hours

A Delta Air Lines flight was delayed for several hours on Wednesday after a swarm of bees clustered on the plane's wing, prompting the airline to postpone the flight while it attempted to convince the insects to buzz off.

The flight was initially set to leave Houston at 12:25 p.m. Eastern time today for Atlanta, but was delayed until about 4:30 p.m. due to the bee swarm, according to flight data. 

"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 spokesperson told CBS News. 

A passenger on the flight tweeted about the event, from the initial discovery of the bees and a blow-by-blow of the event, including the idea of calling a bee keeper to remove the insects. 

"My flight leaving Houston is delayed because bees have congregated on the tip of one of the wings," wrote Anjali Enjeti, a journalist and author, on Twitter, who also posted a photo of the bee-swarmed wing. "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?

However, the beekeeper was never called because they weren't allowed to touch the airplane, while pest control wasn't permitted to spray the plane, Enjeti wrote, citing an update of the situation by the pilot.

"Would have a big highlight of my life to see a bee keeper de-bee a plane wing. It's going to be hard to let go of this. The disappointment is real," she added.

At another point, she noted that the airline tried blowing exhaust on the swarm. "Bees were not impressed," she wrote.

Enjeti noted that some other passengers appeared irked about the bee delay. "Wish you could hear people on the phone here trying to explain to why our flight is delayed," she tweeted. 

Eventually, the bees were shaken loose when the airplane pushed back from the gate, without any passengers aboard, according to a spokesperson. 

"As soon as our plane's engine turned on, THE BEES LEFT!!! All Delta had to do was TURN ON THE PLANE," Enjeti wrote.

A few wags added comments to Enjeti's thread. 

"Looking forward to the Samuel L Jackson adaptation of this whole saga," one commenter wrote, referring to Jackson's 2006 "Snakes on a Plane."

Another one joked, "Delta should offer the bees $350 to take a later flight."

Such swarms are rare but have occurred before, such as on the side of an American Airlines plane out of Miami in 2017; and on the flight deck window of an Air India jet in 2019.

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