ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Bee guy Q&A: Matt Hilton explains of why swarm delayed Dodgers-Diamondbacks

May 1, 2024, 11:12 AM

Beekeeper clearing the bees at Chase Field D-backs-Dodgers game....

Beekeeper clearing the bees at Chase Field. (Arizona Sports Photo/Felisa Cardenas)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Felisa Cardenas)

We know there are questions swarming in your head about how the Diamondbacks-Dodgers game on Tuesday night got delayed by a mass of bees accumulating on the home plate netting. You probably want to know why that happens and how the “bee guy” became a local celebrity in an instant.

Bickley & Marotta had a chance to better understand the curious behavior of bees when beekeeper Matt Hilton of Blue Sky Pest Control joined the show on Wednesday morning.

Some questions were answered by the bee guy:

Why did the bees swarm and collect in Chase Field?

“When a bee colony gets large enough, there’s a large chunk of bees that will break off from the original colony and they’ll have a new queen with them as well. That’s called a swarm. That will fly a bit and it’ll land somewhere — usually it’s pretty random. When they land they just have that queen in there and all the bees are just surrounding her, protecting her.”

Why did nobody notice the bees near home plate? Do they really gather that quickly?

“(Bees will form a ball) in a matter of minutes. Once the swarm shows up, you’re talking thousands of bees that will just cruise into an area. When they decide a spot to land, those thousands and thousands of bees, they’re landing and all balled up in a matter of minutes.”

Can the bees get agitated?

“They can. The reality is most times when they’re swarming like this, they’re pretty docile. Their main focus is just covering that queen bee and protecting her. But if they do get riled up — let’s say a ball had hit the net and it disturbed them — then they can get agitated and that’s when it can start turning south.”

You handle bees every day at work. Did you get nervous about performing work in front of thousands of fans?

“Oh, yeah. It was absolutely crazy. My mind kept going through all the scenarios of how it could go south on my drive out there. Yeah, luckily it went really well. It couldn’t have gone any better actually.”

So do beekeepers always have their gear ready to go in their car?

“Yeah. I always have my bee gear ready to go. … We get deployed quite frequently, and often with bee situations, it’s a very urgent matter that we got to respond very quickly.”

How was throwing out the first pitch?

“That was super, super cool. I don’t know who they had planned to do the first pitch if it weren’t me … I feel bad for the guy. I was happy to do it. I was a little bummed I didn’t get the strike. I won’t talk too much about how far right that went. … I won’t be drafted anytime soon.”

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Bee guy Q&A: Matt Hilton explains of why swarm delayed Dodgers-Diamondbacks