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Honeybee Swarm Shuts Down United Gates at O'Hare

Swarm was looking to set up a new colony, but the airport beekeeper vacuumed them up.

A honeybee | Credit: Ken Thomas
A honeybee | Credit: Ken Thomas

CHICAGO — United Airlines was forced to shut down three gates at O'Hare International Airport on Sunday due to an unwanted and unexpected landing — a swarm of honeybees arrived at gate B7 and wouldn't leave.

John Hansen, the airport's resident beekeeper, was called in to vacuum up the bees. The vacuum does not harm the bees.

In 2011, O'Hare Airport became the first U.S. airport to open an apiary on the premises. That spring, 28 beehives were opened as part of a conservation program, according to the City of Chicago. Hansen now oversees 75 beehives at the airport, one of the world's busiest.

Hansen told WBBM Newsradio that he's not sure whether these bees are from one of his hives. He said the bees were following their queen and looking to set up a new colony.

Mohammed Hussain July 08, 2014 at 12:42 PM
^I agree - especially when bee colonies are dying out across the country, this is a great idea. I'd accept getting stung or a slightly delayed flight to continue to have fruits/vegetables/flowers in the future
Kent Frederick July 08, 2014 at 08:45 PM
This was probably a minor delay for several flights, compared to what happened at Orlando on Sunday, with wave after wave of thunderstorms coming through the area starting around 1pm. Flights were running anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours behind schedule.
LunchLadyU July 08, 2014 at 10:45 PM
I like that this happened at Gate B7. haha Yes, we need bees to pollinate so we have food to eat. Save the bees!
Jim July 09, 2014 at 09:59 PM
In 2011, O'Hare Airport became the first U.S. airport to open an apiary on the premises. That spring, 28 beehives were opened as part of a conservation program, according to the City of Chicago. Hansen now oversees 75 beehives at the airport, one of the world's busiest. Why didn't THIS makes the news???? Rock on honeybees!
AJ McCrea July 14, 2014 at 11:11 AM
This is not Oak Lawn news.

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