In June, a swarm of bees found its way into the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia. The bees grounded the plane until they could be removed.

There is one thing for sure that can ground the, the F-22 Raptor, the world’s first 5th Generation fighter. It’s not another fighter. Or a drone. Or even a sophisticated SAM (Surface to Air) missile. It’s mother nature’s own: honey bees.

In June, a swarm of honey bees found their way onto the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor. It is not known why the bees decided to land on a $143 million dollar fighter. However, one theory is the queen likely landed on the F-22 to take a break. The rest of the hive followed and eventually collected there.

So the USAF decided to call in the US Navy to save the day.

Andy Westrich, a retired US Navy veteran and local beekeeper, came to the rescue of the 5th Generation Fighter. Westrich used a vacuum to remove the bees for relocation. Westrich said the swarm was one of the largest he had ever seen. The total weight: 8 pounds and over 20,000 bees.

“The honey bees most likely came from a much larger bee hive somewhere else on base,” said Chief Master Sergeant Gregg Allen, 192nd Maintenance Group Quality Assurance chief, who also happens to be a bee keeper.

“Bee hives are constantly growing and they eventually become overcrowded. 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.”

192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine on June 11, 2016 at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Andy Westrich, U.S. Navy retired and local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers found a swarm of honey bees hanging from the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor. A local honey bee keeper, was called to remove and relocate the bees to a safe place for them to build their hive. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

The Raptor was cleared for normal operation after the removal of honey bees. It is not known what the new stealth properties of the aircraft would be with a hive attached. But maybe the thrust vectoring would be improved?

You can read Kelsey Atherton’s full article here.

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