The official seal of the city of New Britain, Connecticut, features a beehive and the Latin inscription, “Industria implet alveare et melle fruitur,” which translates to “Industry fills the hive and enjoys the honey.”
The city embraces the simile “busy as a bee”—an expression whose origins go back more than 600 years to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales—because industry has so thoroughly filled the proverbial hive in New Britain. The city earned the nickname “Hardware City” because of its rich manufacturing history, and more specifically because it’s home to the headquarters for Stanley Black & Decker.
“The first professional ballpark, which is next door to New Britain Stadium, is Beehive Field,” said Chris Knoblock, Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting for the New Britain Bees, “and New Britain’s town mascot is a bee as well.”
So when it came time to name the city’s baseball team, a new franchise in the independent Atlantic League of Professional Baseball, before the 2016 season, it’s not a surprise that a certain buzzing insect played a role. Bees beat out Stingers, Hornets, Hammer, and Hard Hitters in a name-the-team fan vote.
The logo, created by Skye Design Studios in North Carolina, who recently created the logo for the Atlantic League’s 2018 All Star Game in Long Island, features a beehive, dripping honey, and this guy here who is so adorable he almost makes you forget that he’ll inject you with throat-closing venom in a heartbeat if you even look at him funny.
The unaffiliated Bees assumed the mantle of the city’s baseball team after the New Britain Rock Cats (née the New Britain Red Sox) left town to become the Hartford Yard Goats after more than three decades in the city.
“The response has been fantastic—fans have really embraced the Bees identity,” Knoblock said. “Mostly people are thrilled to have baseball remain in New Britain—this being the 35th year of professional baseball between the New Britain Red Sox, Rock Cats, and Bees.”
One thing the Bees share with their Double-A forebears is uniforms featuring their hometown’s “Hardware City” nickname. The Rock Cats actually used Hardware City as their geographic locator for a season before switching to New Britain, and now the Bees wear gold alternate Hardware City uniforms on 11 “Hardware City Sunday Family Fun Days” throughout the season.
Fans of minor league baseball know that there are already a couple “Bees” teams out there. The Triple-A Salt Lake Bees and the Single-A Burlington Bees, both (purely by coincidence) affiliates of the Los Angeles Angels, are called the Bees because of strong populations of followers of the Church of Latter Day Saints in their respective locations, and Biblical references to the “Land of Milk and Honey.” (I wrote about the Salt Lake Bees in this series back in 2014.)
According to Knoblock, the name of New Britain’s team has nothing to do with either of the other baseball Bees, but they have had a little fun with it.
“The public voted on the team name and the public decided ‘Bees’ was the moniker that fit their team,” he said. “We did a funny little interaction with Salt Lake on National Look Alike Day on Twitter, but that’s been the extent of our interaction.”
— New Britain Bees (@NewBritainBees) April 20, 2017
While many minor league teams seem like they’re jumping up and down trying to be noticed, the New Britain Bees have achieved a brand that is both understated and minor league cute. It’s a simple, clean look with nice colors, featuring a cartoon character that is fun without being childish or outlandish.
I’m still terrified of that stinger, though.