Swarm of bees delays start of Dodgers-Diamondbacks game

A rematch of last year’s National League Division Series wasn’t the only buzz at Chase Field on Tuesday night.

Shortly before first pitch between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, a swarm of bees descended upon the top of the protective screen behind home plate, halting the start of the game until a beekeeper could arrive and safely remove the colony.

“This is a tough one,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told SportsNet LA after meeting with umpires. “I think right now, we’re just trying to figure out the situation. Obviously we see the bees. [So] how long will it take a beekeeper to come and take care of the situation.”

Roberts said that the teams briefly considered proceeding with first pitch before the bees were removed.

But, he noted, “if a foul ball hits the screen, what happens to the bees at that point?”

Apparently, it wasn’t a risk Major League Baseball was willing to take. The league, which was in communication with the umpires, instead decided to halt the game until the nest was removed.

Just over an hour later, a bee removal expert — Matt Hilton, branch manager of the Blue Sky Pest Control Phoenix office —arrived at the ballpark, was lifted up to the bees, and removed them with an industrial vacuum.

Hilton, who was at his son’s T-ball game when he was called in to handle the Chase Field bees, received a hero’s welcome from the crowd, which chanted “M-V-P” as he waved his arms to pump them up. Then he was allowed to throw the ceremonial first pitch.

“I thought I was here to just take care of a bee problem,” Hilton told the Diamondbacks’ television broadcast. “But people were pretty hyped up. Pretty cool.”

Originally scheduled for 6:40 p.m. local time, the game instead began at 8:35.

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