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August 29, 2014

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Ice Ice Billy

A bee-utiful day at a D-Backs spring training game

Monday's spring training tilt between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, Arizona, was delayed for 41 minutes when a swarm of bees took a low-altitude position around the first base bag.

It's not every day when one can see an insect act this good at a baseball park. So as the bees took the field, my first thought was how this was far more interesting than the monkeys on dogs herding sheep the Las Vegas Wranglers had booked for a midnight game in December, particularly since the bees actually showed up for their contracted commitment.

My second thought was how poorly produced this bee act was. The amazing intricacies of the swarm's choreography were lost from my seat above the third base dugout. In fact, no one could really even see the swarm at all. So, we'll have to hang that one on the wardrobe department.

There was no introduction music, nor a public address announcement claiming that we had seen this act on America's Got Talent. There was no live video on the big board. And as a promotion they were unbilled, but I assumed it was because this swarm was not one of killer bees and management thought they would not have been as good of a draw.

It became evident this was not at all planned, at least by people.

None of these bees had been invited, much less the centerpiece of a zany promotion. Yet the level of their organization was staggering. Were these college bees participating in a flash swarm? Could this have been part of an ambitious Occupy Ballpark movement? Or, perhaps, they were all streaking hoping that their bare, un-blurred pygidiums would make the evening news, or that the "Hi Queen" written upon their thorax would make SportsCenter highlights.

And from what I could see, the bees were indeed unclothed.

Rumors rushed around the ball park that this swarm had some kind of organization, and likely more nefariously coordinated than at first believed. Conspiracy theorists from fans in far-right field claimed to have heard a number of high-pitched cheers and tiny little fist bumps from behind a grounds crew gate just before the players on the field began to scatter.

Another fan says that she had made eye contact with one of the bees as it was applying eye black and it defiantly stuck out its proboscis at her. Her credibility, however, was thrown into doubt when she later reported seeing a smaller swarm of bees with mullets wearing cut off Kid Rock T-shirts and strapping on nectar helmets.

Be that as it may, fans seated in what looked to be section 102 apparently recalled the stadium's warnings that flying objects may leave the playing field, and promptly evacuated their seats.

Some sensed that much of the 41-minute delay was being used to avoid tear-gassing the swarm which would likely have angered it and perhaps caused it to enter the stands. Others sensed that officials needed time to assess the swarm's list of demands.

Eventually, two golf carts that had been coated in lemonade and carried large puffs of cotton candy were driven onto the field then parked near the first base bag. Looking as if the swarm got everything it had demanded, the bees swarmed to their escape escorts where they were carted away, but likely only after fire department officials enlisted a relative - perhaps a wasp - to remind the bees that they had larva at home.

The Giants went on to beat the Diamondbacks 11-1.

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