An animal expert has revealed how an incident involving a swarm of bees at a major airport has kicked off a comprehensive on-site beekeeping programme.
Ben Shertzer works as a wildlife administrator at Allegheny County Airport Authority, Pennsylvania.
Back in August 2012, Ben was called in as a swarm consisting of thousands of bees delayed a plane’s takeoff from Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT).
The Airport Improvement magazine quotes Ben as saying: “As they were loading the plane, a swarm of bees came across the airfield and landed on the aircraft. All of the ground crews stepped back from the aircraft and with the initial fear of stinging insects, nobody wanted to get around it.”
The wildlife expert assigned the owner of the local beekeeping business Meadow Sweet Apiaries, Stephen Repasky, to relocate the colony. Eventually, the flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York City suffered a 20-minute delay.
Reflecting on the headline-hitting occurrence, Ben admitted: “I didn’t expect that at all. For us, it was all about being a good steward and a good neighbour.”
Stephen was subsequently hired as an on-call beekeeper at the airport, which recorded more than 6.3 million passengers in 2021. He is also available to other airports in the region regarding the removal of swarms.
Furthermore, Stephen – who is the co-author of a 2014 release called “Swarm Essentials” – established several apiaries just outside PIT’s perimeter fence. Today, the hives are home to around 100 colonies.