When a C-17 gives you bees, you make honey

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jodie Witmer
  • 167AW/PA
During a post flight inspection of a C-17 Globmaster III, Tech. Sgt. Matt Riffle and Staff Sgt. Shane Hott, crew chiefs at the 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg, W.Va., were about to exit the aircraft when they noticed a swarm of bees at the main crew entrance door of the C-17, May 3, 2016.
"It was almost like a cloud of bees," said Riffle.
The crew chiefs waited a short while for the bees to leave the door of the aircraft, then decided to leave out the back of the aircraft and call for some help with the bees that had landed and gathered in two large masses on the fuselage and crew entrance door ladder.  
Staff Sgt. Joshua Carder, a firefighter at the 167th AW, was sitting in the Emergency Control Center at the time of the swarm and heard someone over the radio say something about bees. 
Carder has been a beekeeper for five years.
According to Carder, "You have beekeepers and bee raisers. Beekeepers keep the bees alive and you make honey. Some people can go five years without making any honey and they are called bee raisers."
Since no one knew what to do with the bees, Carder volunteered to capture the bees and keep them on his orchard with his other hives.
Carder first identified the queen of the swarm and scooped her, along with some of the other bees, into a "bee box."
The rest of the bees that had swarmed the C-17 followed the queen into the "bee box." It was like a parade of bees following the pheromones of the queen right into the box, said Carder.
Carder estimated that there were about 5,000 to 10,000 bees in the swarm.
No bees or humans were harmed during the swarm. The bees are currently living the sweet life of making honey.