The usual hive of activity at West Bengal's busiest airport was interrupted this week thanks to tens of thousands of swarming bees, which refused to buzz off.
On Sunday, a swarm of insects attached themselves to a passenger jet waiting to depart Kolkata Airport, delaying it for over an hour, only to reappear on the following day to delay yet another plane.
The first incident occurred on a plane bound for Delhi, operated by Vistara at 4pm on Sunday, shortly before passengers were about to board. This process was delayed by about an hour as ground crew and airport fire crews had to wash off the determined insect with water cannon.
"Within minutes, [thousands] of bees had settled on the plane as though ready to build a hive. Water jets had to be sprayed for a good 30 minutes to dislodge them," a spokesperson for the airline told the Times of India at the time.
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However, having rid the plane of the swarming insects a second plane was enveloped by bees, at 8am the following morning. Bound for Port Blair in the Andman islands, the next plane operated by Vistara was found to be covered in insects as it left the hangar on bay 25, where ground staff suspect the insects were sheltering.
The water cannons were again wheeled out to rid the plane of insects, which was a slightly more difficult process given the cargo doors had been opened for loading. The plane ultimately departed at 11.30, an hour behind schedule.
Bees are becoming a nuisance at the busy regional airport. In September last year a swarm held up an Air India flight bound for Agartala, and there were two incidents in 2012. However swarms have never been so close together, just 16 hours apart.
Pilots and crew dare not attempt to take off with insects on the body of the plane. Interference with instruments and airspeed indicators could give false readings which would be catastrophic.
It is not clear whether this second incident was the same swam or if the airport is on the flight path of migrating bees.