Bees swarm Indian Wells tennis tournament, prompting almost two-hour delay

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Indian Wells, Calif. — A swarm of bees forced a nearly two-hour disruption to the quarterfinal match between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev at the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.

Alcaraz swatted at the bees buzzing around him before running for cover and the match was suspended after 19 minutes with Alcaraz serving tied at 1-1. The Mexican went on to win 6-3, 6-1, in less time than the delay of 1 hour, 48 minutes. The actual playing time was one hour, 29 minutes.

Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, swats away a bee as he plays Alexander Zverev, of Germany, during a quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament on March 14, 2024, in Indian Wells, Calif.

Mark J. Terrill / AP


Dozens of bees attached themselves to the overhead spider camera that traverses the court and a man without any protective covering used a vacuum to clean them off.

Bees swarm around a camera during a quarterfinal match at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament on March 14, 2024, in Indian Wells, Calif.

Mark J. Terrill / AP


The players left the court during the delay. When they returned, the chair umpire told them there were still some bees around and Zverev joked that he was fine to play on his side of the court.

The bee vacuumer was summoned back to the court with a spray bottle and was cheered wildly by the crowd. He posed for selfies with fans, causing Alcaraz and Zverev to laugh as they watched him wander the seats spraying for bees. The man also doused the walls around the court.

A bee also landed on a player’s towel. Alcaraz expressed ongoing concern that the bees would swarm again on his side, but an ATP Tour supervisor encouraged him to give it a try during the warmup.

The tournament’s owner, billionaire Larry Ellison, and former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates were watching the match from Ellison’s box. 

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