The players had taken evasive manoeuvres. The groundsmen seemed clueless as to what to do. The match delay was now stretching towards the hour mark.
In front of nearly 30,000 people, a swarm of thousands of bees invaded the Wanderers pitch in Johannesburg and brought an abrupt halt to South Africa’s ‘pink day’ ODI against Sri Lanka.
South Africa’s fielders, dressed completely in pink in support of breast cancer awareness, as well as Sri Lanka’s batsmen and the umpires, were forced to lie flat on their bellies as they waited for the bees to pass.
Except the bees never left. Instead, they congregated menacingly on Proteas wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock’s helmet on the turf.
When the fire extinguisher came out, Mr Hefer knew he had to act.
Donning his trusty bee-keeping kit — full coverage with white overalls, hat and gumboots — he grabbed his tools and dashed to the cricket ground.
Arriving at the ground dressed head to toe in bee-keeping regalia, security had no problems letting him park his car at the front gate and enter for free as the delay in play stretched on.
“I think they saw me in this outfit, noticed all the equipment and reckoned I must be what I say I am, and with play stopped, they let me in,” Mr Hefer said.
“When they took out the fire extinguisher, I knew I had to get down here.
“You see, you might get rid of them for a bit, but they’ll come back, I thought they might be able to use my expertise.”
Using a home-made hive and his well-honed bee-bossing skills, Mr Hefer successfully captured the bees, prompting rapturous applause from the thousands in attendance.
The groundstaff tried all the tricks. Coaxing the hive into a wheelie-bin didn’t work, and neither did trying to disperse the stinging bugs with a fire extinguisher.
Some 20 minutes west of the Wanderers, local bee enthusiast Pierre Hefer was watching the action — or lack thereof — unfold on his TV.