- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2016

The U.S. Air Force’s F-22 Raptor is a multi-role fighter that provides dominance in the skies, but the $143 million jet apparently has one weakness: bees.

Airman 1st Class Johnisa Roberts wrote earlier this week for Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System about a surreal swarm of 20,000 bees that made an F-22 Raptor engine into a new home. The problem, which was noticed on June 11, was a first for crew members at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia.

“I was shocked like everyone else because it looked like a cloud of thousands of bees, but I knew they wouldn’t sting anyone and were just looking for a new place to live,” Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Baskin, 192nd Maintenance Squadron crew chief told DVIDS on Sunday.

An on-base entomologist did not have the means to dislodge nearly 8 pounds of bees from the aircraft, but a retired U.S. Navy veteran turned beekeeper was eventually found to relocate the hive. The bees were vacuumed up and taken to a colony used by a local beer producer.

“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, DVIDS reported. “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.”

The bee-free F-22 Raptor will once again be able to load up with 26,000 pounds of fuel and take its 1,000-pound GBU-32 JDAMs and AIM-120 radar-guided air-to-air missiles to a ceiling over 50,000 feet.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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