Conservation prompts Yost's concern for bees

Royals manager against extermination of swarm that has invaded Surprise Stadium

Conservation prompts Yost's concern for bees

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Royals manager Ned Yost has no issue killing deer, or other wildlife.

So you may wonder why Yost has been so consumed with the well-being of the honey bee population. Yost was angered last Spring Training when a swarm of honey bees that delayed a game in Tempe, Ariz., was exterminated, calling the act "mass bee genocide."

A swarm of honey bees also has invaded Surprise Stadium several times this spring, and the swarm delayed Tuesday's game when it landed on a Royals ball bag near the dugout. A local exterminator was called.

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This time, though, the honey bees were spared when a retired beekeeper in the stands -- Lowell Hutchison from St. Joseph, Mo. -- came to the rescue. He calmly picked up the ball bag with hundreds of bees clinging to it and dropped it into a plastic garbage bag. The bag then was taken to the parking lot and opened, and the bees were released alive and well.

"If they brought in an exterminator, don't you think I had it in my mind to give that bag a boot so they would all get away?" Yost said Wednesday morning. "I had it in my mind, 'We're not killing these bees.'"

Yost's compassion for honey bees stems from his conservationist beliefs.

"They are just important to the environment," Yost said. "I saw a study a couple of years ago where they said the honey bee population was declining and they cannot figure out why. And they have studied the importance of what they do in terms of pollination of the crops, especially the fruit trees in Florida. They are vital to the environment.

"It's just a mysterious [population] decline, and the scientists can't figure out why. So, to arbitrarily kill a bunch of bees makes zero sense to me.

"I'm not like that with a lot of stuff, but I'm a conservationist. I love conservation. I love the aspect of wildlife, fish. I love that stuff."

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Of course, back on his farm in Georgia, Yost and his close friend, comedian Jeff Foxworthy -- who has a neighboring farm -- are legendary deer hunters.

"People ask, 'Why do you deer hunt?'"Yost said. "Well, you deer hunt to control the population. You don't control the population, then they are all going to starve. That's why we have hunting seasons. We try to maintain a balance between the wildlife and the food they have to eat. If there was no hunting season, they would overpopulate [and starve].

"Look, I can kill with the best of them. But only if it makes sense. We'll kill over 150 deer a year between my farm and Jeff's farm. But all that meat goes to people and feeds people. We give it to churches and the Columbus food bank. We're just not slaying them [for fun]."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.