A Swarm of 20,000
Crew members from the U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor found a swarm of approximately 20,000 bees. The bees were found on the exhaust of the $143 million dollar fighter jet.
Knowing that bees are nearing extinction the crew contacted a local bee keeper to remove the hive. Retired U.S. Navy veteran Andy Westrich was called to the task. He exclaimed that it was the largest hive he had ever seen.
Westrich utilized vacuum hoses to suck up the honey producers. They were then put into large buckets for transport. The bees weighed approximately 8 lbs. There was over 20,000 bees! They were given a new home at a local beer production facility.
But, where did they all come from? Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Allen, 192nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance chief, said, “Bee hives are constantly growing and they eventually become overcrowded,” he said. “Around springtime, the bees will make a new queen, scout for a new location and take half of the hive with them to that location.” The popular theory as to their migration to the F-22 is that the queen and her army were on their way to a larger, new home when she stopped to rest on the exhaust pipe of the jet. Bees do not leave their queen, so they waited with her. After quite a while in the exhaust they might have even considered the F-22 their new home.
A similar issue befell the crew at Malmstom Air Force Base, where they watched 25,000 honeybees swarm and make a home in the shrubs near the arms training range. Senior Airman Billy Hunt called in a “master beekeeper” who was able to remove the animals using a cardboard box with slatted interior and a lid. They also ended up in a local resting place.
“I definitely consider it a win,” Hunt said. “Most people’s first instinct is to kill bees.”
The F-22 was originally designed and manufactured to replace other jet fighter models but after years of cost overruns and mechanical issues, the Air Force only purchased 188 of them.