Swarm weather delays Royals-Angels in Tempe

Bees scatter players prior to first pitch before settling behind home plate

Swarm weather delays Royals-Angels in Tempe

TEMPE, Ariz. -- That buzz heard at Tempe Diablo Stadium just as the first pitch was about to be thrown Sunday in a Cactus League game between the Angels and Royals was more than just the crowd's anticipation. It was a visit from thousands of unwanted guests that decided to fly in at the last minute.

A swarm of bees scattered Angels outfielders and sent players off the field, causing a 10-minute delay to the start of the game. The swarm settled on a television field microphone situated on the backstop behind home plate, sending a few rows of fans elsewhere but allowing play to begin.

Angels starter Matt Shoemaker said what seemed to be a normal annoyance as he warmed up for the first pitch turned into something much more than that as shortstop Erick Aybar let him know a swarm was on its way.

"I was warming up and there was a bee or two flying around my head, I didn't really notice them," Shoemaker said. "They're bees, you just swat at them. But when there's thousands of them, you get out of the way."

Angels center fielder Mike Trout was among those who began the exodus from the field as the bees entered the playing field from right-center field, he and the other outfielders gathering in the outfield grass away from the swarm. Within minutes, the swarm had moved toward home plate, sending players and fans scattering. But once the swarm settled on a landing spot, the situation settled down and play began.

"We thought they were just going to leave, but they all got in a big grouping on the net and the microphone," Shoemaker said. "Once [the umpires] said, 'Hey, we're ready to go,' you've got to get ready."

Then, in the middle of the fourth inning, beekeeper Wil Godwin of City West Pest Control of Tempe was called in to resolve the issue, later explaining that the bees settled on the microphone after getting worn out by the long flight from the outfield.

"They basically probably got tired and went there to chill," Godwin said. "And then typically, they send out a few scouts to go search for another place while the rest of them stick around and protect the queen bee."

Dressed in full beekeeper garb, Godwin sprayed the settled swarm with pesticide and wound up sweeping up the remains into an orange bucket. That delay lasted a little less than 10 minutes.

"The problem is there could be someone out there who is allergic [to bee stings], and then you have a big issue," Godwin said.

Royals manager Ned Yost thought a different approach would have been better, since they were just honeybees.

"You just smoke 'em, vacuum them up, and then release them somewhere else," said Yost.

This wasn't the first time a swarm of bees has interrupted a Spring Training game in Tempe, and the Angels also endured a bee situation in a regular-season game two years ago.

"We've had them before in the bullpen area, but we've never had them migrating," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia. "We were trying to find anyone with some experience with bee migrations, but none of us did. You have to find a way to play the game without distractions, and if these bees stayed in the middle of the field, it would have been impossible to play."

Godwin said it's not surprising the swarm descended on a game this time of year in Arizona.

"It's a pretty common occurrence in the spring here," Godwin said. "The bees are basically looking for water and food, just like everything else. A ballfield is pretty moist, so it attracts them."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.