Indian Wells

How beekeeper Lance Davis saved the Indian Wells QFs... barehanded

Beekeeper had to retrieve truck from repair shop to make mercy dash to Indian Wells Tennis Garden
March 15, 2024
Beekeeper Lance Davis takes care of business at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Thursday.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Beekeeper Lance Davis takes care of business at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden Thursday. By Andrew Eichenholz

Nobody will soon forget the bee swarm during the BNP Paribas Open quarter-final Thursday between Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev. Just two games into the match, bees took over Stadium 1, forcing a delay of nearly two hours.

It was Lance Davis of Killer Bee Live Removal who saved the day... barehanded! Davis, who explained that he has worked with bees since 1971 and launched his current company in 1986, had been at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the past five days removing swarms.

“My truck was actually being worked on at Palms To Pines Automotives in Palm Desert. I was in Palm Springs on an estimate with my personal truck,” Davis told “I had to go drive over to Palms To Pines Automotives and get my truck. They were just starting to work and I went, ‘No, put it back together. I've got to go. I've got an emergency call!’”


Davis rushed over to the home of the season’s first ATP Masters 1000 event and quickly became the star of the show. Fans in attendance and those following from around the world marvelled at the beekeeper, who fearlessly gathered the bees barehanded.

“I brought all my equipment up and then they were on the spider cam, so they just swung the spider cam over. I had my equipment set up and I vacuumed up the bees into a live-catch cage,” Davis said. “Then I can take them out... and release them into one of my hives that I have. They're set up just for this type of thing.

“This time of year is swarming season, so they go everywhere. And I'm just happy to be there for them so they could not have any incidents.”

Davis said that it was “a small swarm, probably about 3,500” bees. He has “a couple hundred beehives”. The beekeeper explained that there are up to 50,000 bees in a regular commercial beehive, but typically around 30,000. “That's what produces honey,” he said. “The more bees, the more honey.”

Why was there such a swarm in the stadium in that moment?

“It's because in the wintertime, they're all clustered together, and they get kind of cabin fever, and the queen keeps laying eggs and they keep her area warm in there. So when they keep on multiplying — a queen lays like 2000 eggs a day, and the gestation period is 21 days — after 21 days of being in a water valve box or a wall of a structure, it's perpetual,” Davis said. “They keep on hatching babies at 2,000 babies a day. It gets more and more and more and then they get overcrowded.

“The overcrowding actually signals the queen bee that's been laying the eggs to take half the workers and leave and find a new place to live. The other half stays where they're at and make a new queen bee.”

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Davis received plenty of high fives and requests for on-the-go selfies as he moved around the stadium, working his way down to the court to make sure the space was safe for the players, their teams and fans. Before the match resumed, Davis was seen speaking to the players alongside tournament officials at the net.

“I said they probably won't come back because it's too late in the afternoon, and they only swarm in the morning, around nine to 10 o'clock, to 11 o'clock is when they divide the colonies and travel,” Davis said. “They find a place to hang overnight, and they look for new places. The scouts the queen sends out look for new places to live, and then they all go to it in a day or two.”

News of the bees spread around social media quicker than the swarm took over the court. Even actor Ben Stiller took to X, formerly known as Twitter, about it. “Bee Invasion Guy is very cool. Fearless,” Stiller wrote.

Davis said he does not have social media on the phone and did not know his actions had gone viral.

“Ben Stiller? Really?” he asked. “Well, that's really neat. I like Ben Stiller, he's great.”

The beekeeper also has worked for Coachella and Stagecoach for 12 years. He added that he has a TV show on EarthXTV called The Killer Bee Catcher. What should fans know about bees?

“They pollinate all the flowers in the world, so without the bees, we wouldn't have anything that the herbivores could eat, which we eat herbivores if we're meat-eaters,” Davis said. “The bees pollinate everything the sheep and the cattle eat. Even the pigs, all the things that they eat. Those are main staples still in America at least. The bees are actually the most important insect to humankind.”

Davis enjoys tennis, which he called “great”. But he was unable to watch the rest of the Alcaraz-Zverev match as he had to make sure everybody was safe and discuss what had happened. Davis said his wife recorded the match.

In closing, Davis said: “I was really happy to be there to help everybody not get hurt and not have to have the matches be delayed any more than they were.”


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