The atmosphere was literally buzzing at a Bovey Tracey cricket match on Sunday, courtesy of 20,000 honeybees which suddenly swarmed on the town's recreation ground.

Panic set in at around 2pm when the living cloud descended on the park where crowds were enjoying the match and queuing to use the open air swimming pool.

Not only was the game against Cornwood suspended for 20 minutes but those waiting for the pool to open were forced to take refuge in the nearby football club pavilion, where steward Neil Hackleton slammed the doors shut and got on the phone for help.

'It was a glorious day outside but then suddenly the sky went dark and I thought it was going to rain,' he told the Advertiser.

'This cloud just came over the cricket ground and headed for the football club, it was really quite frightening at first. The kids were all rushing in and screaming. It was so hot in the club it was unbelievable and there wasn't room inside for everyone so I just policed some of the kids outside and kept them on the side of the club away from the bees.'

Alison Green, a volunteer at the pool, praised his quick thinking.

'Neil was brilliant and soon took charge when all the children rushed into the club, he's a bit of a hero really.'

Fear quickly turned to fascination however when beekeepers Terri Holman and Glyn Davies arrived, having been called by town councillor Tony Allen.

Mr Hackleton said: 'It was amazing to watch as the beekeepers got the queen into a basket which they then put upside down on a white sheet on the ground.

'Bees were coming out the air like Spitfires to join her. There were so many of them and coming in so fast that the basket actually rose off the ground.'

Another on the scene was cricket club secretary Geoff Coish. He said: 'It was panic stations for a while and all the players huddled together in the middle of the pitch,' he said.

'The bees were buzzing around the boundary of the cricket ground and then they began to settle on a small tree outside the football club.

'It was quite strange. The place was packed but then everyone just disappeared into the clubhouse and it was deserted.'

Bovey beekeeper Terri Holman said once people realised the situation was under control they began to emerge and even enjoy the occasion.

'They were very interested and asking lots of questions as most of them had never seen a swarm before,' she said.

'The queen probably came from another hive in the area as her swarm was growing and running out of space. About half of them, perhaps 20,000 would have followed her, leaving behind other queen cells, one of which would become the new queen.

'People shouldn't worry when they bees swarming, just try to get hold of a beekeeper who can come and deal with it, although I have to say if I saw a big cloud of them like that I think I'd panic a bit too.'

The bees have now been settled in one of Mr Davies' hives in Chudleigh, although plenty of stragglers were still this week buzzing round the tree.

'It's probably not the best place to have a picnic just yet,' said Mrs Holman who expressed the hope that this summer's weather would be better than previous years in which wet conditions had reduced bee numbers.

'Bees are just wonderful creatures and as a vegetable and fruit grower I know just how important they are. To sit under an apple tree and watch them working the blossom is fascinating and I just think wow, thanks to them that will soon be a bumper crop of apples.'

Back on the cricket pitch Bovey went on to lose to Cornwood although Mr Coish said the blame couldn't be placed with the bees.

'I'm afraid Cornwood were just the better team on the day,' he said.