Swarm of giant honey bees trigger chaos at Thailand airport

A swarm of large honey bees caused fairly the excitement at Khon Kaen Airport in northeast Thailand yesterday, inflicting delays to two flights and stinging six members of floor employees who all required hospitalisation.
As quickly as Thai AirAsia flight FD3260 from Bangkok’s Don Mueang Airport landed on the runway at Khon Kaen Airport yesterday, a colony of big honey bees (Apis dorsata) swarmed the turbofan on the plane’s right-hand exterior.
Luckily, passengers could disembark from the aircraft through a detachable jet bridge. However, their luggage couldn’t be unloaded due to the 1000’s of bees buzzing about the aircraft’s underbelly.
Director of Khon Kaen Airport Sommai Chainat ordered staff to spray water on the bees and use an airport crash tender truck to blow air into the aircraft’s exhaust pipe in an attempt to drive the swarm out of the plane.
The tactic labored and the giant honey bees left Thai AirAsia’s plane and disappeared, permitting flight FD3261 back to Don Mueang to depart – 30 minutes later than scheduled.
But when Thai Smile Airways flight WE044 from Suvarnabhumi Airport landed on Khon Kaen Airport’s runway, the swarm returned. As the aircraft taxiied into Parking Bay 2, half the bees congregated beneath the jet bridge whereas the opposite half swarmed the aircraft’s right-hand turbofan, once more.
Again, passengers may disembark from the airplane via the jet bridge however their luggage couldn’t be unloaded. The ground workers used the identical techniques to drive out the bees, delaying flight WE045 back to Suvarnabhumi Airport by 40 minutes. The bees calmed down after that and didn’t disturb any extra flights yesterday afternoon.
Best is the first time such an event has occurred at Khon Kaen Airport. Giant honey bees migrate seasonally, generally travelling up to 200 kilometres. The bees need their “rest stops,” so it’s possible that the bees had been trying to find someplace to take a break. Or, if an enormous honey bee hive is destroyed or damaged throughout a storm, the colony is pressured to evacuate.
Six members of ground workers at Khon Kaen Airport have been stung yesterday and all required hospitalisation. Giant honey bees in Thailand are about 1 – 1.5 centimetres long and even one sting can be dangerous – and even fatal if the sufferer is allergic to the bee’s venom. Cornell University apiculturist Roger Morse referred to as Thailand’s giant honey bees “the most harmful stinging bugs on earth.”

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