RetRollSpective – Bumblebees

Hello and welcome to another RetRollSpective, where we reflect on the history of marble sports teams that have appeared in the tournaments of Jelle’s Marble Runs. This time, we’re going to fly over to the Bumblebees, a team that first appeared in the 2019 Marble League Showdown. Read on to find out how this team has stung the competition!

The official logo for the Bumblebees, designed by Tim Ritz.

The Bumblebees hail from Buzznya, a subregion in Eastern Europe that borders Herbotamia to the south and Galakonur to the east. Their city of origin, Buzzpig, lies on the eastern border of the region, as far east as Buzzkill, the Hornets’ city of origin, is to the west. The two teams have a legendary rivalry within the region, within the Bug Circuit, and now within the Marble League.

Bumble founded the team over a decade ago to compete with the Hornets, who were beginning to build a fanbase in Buzzpig. “Our city didn’t have an official sports team, and I wanted to change that,” they explained. “I knew Bea, Swax, Honey, and Bomble from playing bugby in club sports, and we were all confident enough in our athletics, even though we weren’t really into racing.”

Queen, who was, at the time, an active member of the Royal Family of Buzznya, fully endorsed the establishment of the Bumblebees and deemed them the official sports team of Buzzpig. Queen would go on to coach the team during the Bug Circuit, drawing from their own experiences in sports playing cricket.

Shortly after the Bumblebees were founded, the Royal Family of Buzznya announced the first annual Bug Circuit to determine the best team in the land. The Bumblebees were selected to host the first season in 2011, and that year, they did so in their newly constructed Buzzbowl. After a season of events in water, dirt, and sand, the Bumblebees finished as runners-up to the Hornets, above the Ladybugs in third.

The final podium for the 2011 Bug Circuit, captured by Spark11.

Over the next two years, the Hornets continued to make the podium while the Bumblebees continued to finish in the top five. The Bumblebees earned their first championship at the end of the 2014 Bug Circuit, where they competed at the Snails’ Slowlane. The team dominated, sweeping all of the snow races and placing in the top half of the remaining events. The Hornets struggled throughout the year, and although they placed in the top half, they could not get close to the Cockroaches and Grasshoppers in second and third, respectively.

Revenge came swiftly next year for the Bumblebees, who did poorly during the 2015 Bug Circuit, which the Hornets hosted and won at their Hivedrive. The events that the Hornets offered played to the Bumblebees’ weaknesses as a team, and the team placed outside of the top five for the first time in their history.

“There was no doubt that they offered the Catwalk to spite us,” insisted Bea. “Before then, we had always seen our rivalry as more symbolic than competitive—even after losing in 2011. 2015 changed everything.”

2016 was a better year for the Bumblebees, as they placed third at the Water Striders’ Stridosphere—although the Hornets followed closely behind in fourth place. By 2017, the Bumblebees were beginning to lose interest in the Circuit. While they still placed in the top five, the team had come to the conclusion that they were weary of the competition and needed a change.

The Bumblebees found that change in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament, which had an opening following Team Phoenix’s retirement. They applied and were accepted because of their successes in the Bug Circuit and their proximity to Herbotamia; the team was close enough to be considered a regional competitor.

An early victory for the Bees that kept them motivated in the end.

The Bumblebees were excited to compete against a new slate of competitors, even if it was in a tournament that was seen as more of a “friendly”. They debuted as well as they possibly could have in the Swing Wave, earning their first gold medal. The Catwalk was next, however, and the team lost in their heat, placing seventh and allowing the Minty Maniacs to rise to the top of the standings. After another finish in the lower half of the standings in Funnel Spinning, the Bees dropped out of the top three. They would fight to regain first place for the rest of the tournament.

Their second gold medal in the Halfpipes brought them back to second overall, but the Bumblebees’ low score in Block Bumping dropped the team down to fourth again. As the Minty Maniacs reclaimed the top spot following the Relay Race, it seemed as if they were the favorites to win the tournament.

“I wasn’t going to let that get in the way. We had a job to do,” vowed Swax.

Swax earned the Bumblebees’ third gold medal of the season in the Maze, swindling it away from the Minty Maniacs. The team rose to second overall, six points behind the Maniacs, and knew they needed to give it their all in the Big Tower—and they did. Bumble earned the team’s fourth gold medal of the season in an underdog upset, just a second ahead of the Ruby Rollers to win the 2018 Hubelino Tournament.

2018 was a bad year to be a Green Gang/Momo fan…but a great year to be a Bumblebees fan!

Buzzpig welcomed the Bumblebees home, holding a citywide parade to celebrate the team’s victory. Fans of JMR noted the Bees’ exemplary performance in their rookie season, having won half of the eight events, and began calling for them to compete in the 2019 Marble League Qualifiers. The team was flattered, but not interested.

“We thought it would be too fast,” Honey pondered. “We wanted at least another year of competing before we thought about vying for Qualifiers.”

The announcement of the Marble League Showdown changed the Bumblebees’ plans, but they were okay with the development, as it would still give them a year of competing before a chance to qualify. The Bees accepted their spot in the Showdown, guaranteed to them by their first-place finish in the 2018 Hubelino Tournament, and began using pseudonyms such as “Bramble” and “Bromble” to protect their identities, much like the O’rangers in the 2016 Marble League. What the team wasn’t expecting, however, was that their old rivals would also be joining the tournament.

The debut of a regional league rivalry on the international stage.

The Hornets, coming off of a second-place finish in the 2018 Bug Circuit, were truly looking to bring the sting in the Showdown. Vespa blocked Bea throughout the Sand Rally until halfway through the race, when Bea was finally able to overtake them. However, Bea could never get close enough to Candy, and after briefly passing Vespa again, Bea got caught on the course and could not recover the podium. They finished the Sand Rally in sixth place, while Vespa earned the first silver of the four-event tournament.

“They came back with a vengeance, and we really weren’t prepared,” Bumble, masquerading as “Brumble”, admitted. “As soon as we realized we couldn’t compete against the Hornets, though, we focused as much as we could on qualifying.”

The Bumblebees’ best placement during the Showdown was fourth in Funnel Endurance, which Bomble (Bromble) competed in. The team managed to place ahead of the Hornets in the event and rise into seventh in the standings, a position that would allow them to advance to the 2020 Marble League Qualifiers. By placing seventh in Balancing, they were able to maintain exactly that and would go on to appear in the competition on 18 June.

“I bee-lieve they have so much potential,” Coach Queen remarked. “And no, I’m not apologizing for that pun. They have grown so much in the past decade, and I am positive that they will thrive in the 2020 Marble League. If not, they’ll at least do better than the Hornets in Marbula One.”

Taking Flight

an addendum by The Emperor

The Bumblebees started off brilliantly in the Marble League 2020 Qualifiers, earning a silver in Balancing. Then they collapsed, placing no higher than fifteenth in the remaining three events. However, their silver was good enough to get them into the League on a tiebreaker, and thus, the Bumblebees made their Marble League debut in 2020. Sadly, it did not go as they hoped, never touching anything above eighth place in the standings throughout the tournament.

The team started with an eighth-place finish in Balancing, the event that they had excelled at in the Qualifiers. Another mediocre finish (tenth) in the Halfpipe dropped the team to ninth. With a seventh-place finish in Funnel Endurance, the Bumblebees rose to the top half again. Bumble and Swax set a very good score in the Newton’s Cradle early on, only for it to be broken by six of the remaining eight teams that went after the Bumblebees.

“It was unbeelieveable,” Swax said after the event. “We were doing so well, and only managing eighth stings.”

Bea could not keep up the momentum, however, in the Long Jump, with a paltry fourteenth place finish. With three more bottom-half finishes in a row, the team sat in thirteenth place at the end of the first half.

“We’ve gotta head in the right direction from here on out. Pick up the pace in the second half.” Honey said. Honey placed in a respectable eighth in the Sand Moguls, but the team had three more consecutive bottom-half finishes from the Sprint to the Relay Race. Honey would turn the tide in the High Jump, however, with a silver medal.

The Bees’ first, and so far only, Marble League “podium moment”.

“Well, as soon as I saw Honey in Round 2 of High Jump I knew that we would be on the podium. Our first ever ML Podium,” Henke, a Bumblebees fan, said. “Then Round 3 came and Honey did not disappoint. They jumped like never before. [They] were clearly determined, and they delivered. Our first ever [ML] podium.”

“Both the Hornets and Bumblebees have struggled to find their footing throughout the season, with the Hornets’ highest finish being fourth in the Triathlon.” Stynth, a former JMRC member, said after the event. “The Bumblebees may not be making waves as rookies, but they do seem to be staying ahead of the Hornets in the standings. May-bee that’s all that matters for them this season.”

The Bumblebees would have two more mediocre finishes before placing fifth in the marathon, ending the league in eleventh; five points ahead of the Green Ducks, but more than a medal behind the top ten.

The Bees finished respectably ahead of many Marble League veterans and the other newcomers at the end of their first Marble League.

“I bee-lieve we exceeded our expectations for this year,” Swax said after the closing ceremony. “We beat the Hornets, got a decent result, and our first-ever medal in the Marble League!”

The Bumblebees returned to Buzznya for the offseason and spent most of their days at the royal palace. The palace had a luxurious view of the Honeycomb Island, where the Bumblebees would spend some of their days training when they weren’t playing bugby.

“I know we should bee training for the exhibition tournament,” Honey admitted, referring to the upcoming reunion of the Herbotamia Tournament. “We wanted to have a little fun, though. It’s not like we’re going to win against the Minty Maniacs this time, anyway.”

“I would bee mad if we did. They were absolutely incredible this season,” added Bumble.

They would partake in the reunion tournament soon and visited the host city of Chlorotopia with Stynth. They played Marbles & Monoliths on the bus ride over, which included Stynth’s character, Momomomomomo, being shattered by a fidget spinner, and Swax’s character, Snax, getting eaten by a giant donut monster.

The Bumblebees participated in the Herbotamia Tournament the next day. The results of said tournament, protected under a strict NDA, are not known except to those who were present.

Following the Herbotamia Tournament, the Bumblebees returned back to Buzznya for a break. The team had set up an obstacle course full of all sorts of events to train on.

“You’ve got to have fun while you’re training,” Swax said. “If there is no fun involved, why bother?”

The promotional poster for the Bumblebees in Marbula One, designed by Jack Ironhide.

Bomble, Swax, and Bea in particular spent a lot of time on this track, as Coach Queen had chosen Bumble, “Unbeelievable,” and Honey, “Sweet Dream,” to participate in the second season of Marbula One. It was during this time that Queen became acquainted with Nectar and Beeline—a duo from the southern regions of Buzznya, and some of the greatest cricket players in all of the region. Queen began to see that with these two on board, the Bumblebees would have great role models to look up to and train with. To Queen’s pleasant surprise, Nectar and Beeline accepted and took on the roles of assistant coach.

“I just, I feel like I’m more of an advisor and organizer, rather than a coach,” Queen said. “Nectar and Beeline, they’re the real deal. I’ll just stick to managing for now. Plus, who else is going to build the Honeydome? You think those jokesters out there will?” Queen said, laughing.

Bumble at the Honeydome, the Bumblebees’ home circuit in Marbula One.

The Bumblebees started the season off well, with Bumble placing fourth at Minty Mania. Honey got another solid result, with seventh, at the O’raceway.

“We’re flying high now, and I’m sure there will bee a podium in our future soon!” Bumble said.

And Bumble almost managed to do that at the Honeydome, with another fourth-place finish at their track. Honey placed fourth at the Aquamaring, as well.

“Oh please, I enjoy that we’re doing good, but I hope we don’t bee-come the next Team Galactic.” Honey said after the Aquamaring, with a smirk.

“Although I suppose it’s better than the Hornets,” Swax said laughing.

The Bees would place outside of the top half for the first time all season at Tumult Turnpike, with Bumble finishing tenth. Honey could not rebound at the Arctic Circuit, as they qualified nineteenth, and ended their perfect attendance in the season.

“Ouch! That stung!” Honey said after the event. “Not as much as this cold though…”

During the offseason, Nectar and Beeline played cricket with the team a lot. There was a cold spell in Buzznya during the Winter, and the team hibernated inside the castle a lot.

“We were offered an invitation to the Winter League, but we decided to stay here for the winter, with our team. Together.” Honey said, drinking some Minty Bee Tea. “We’re one big family, ya know? And there’s no place like home for the holidays.”

The Bumblebees fan section in the grandstands of the Raceforest GP.

The Bumblebees returned to the second half of Marbula One with high hopes. However, there wouldn’t bee a lot of success for them.

Honey salvaged three points at the Raceforest, but the team would have five straight scoreless races in a row after that.

“I can’t bee-lieve it,” Bumble said. “We need to bring this together soon. Right the ship.” Honey echoed their teammate’s sentiment. 

Following two straight DNQs at the Momotorway and Palette Park, Misty Mountain would prove to be a difficult track for the Bumblebees, as Bumble would get stuck on the now infamous Turn Six.

“I’m furious that I got stuck there, yes. But I’m more furious at myself for allowing myself to get stuck there. I was too aggressive on the turn, and it didn’t pay off,” Bumble said after the race.

Following the race, Nectar and Beeline called an emergency meeting back in Buzznya. It was there that the coaches dropped the news that the Hornets would be retiring from the Marble League altogether. Effective immediately.

“Wow. I’m shocked. It won’t bee the same without them,” Bumble remarked.

“We’ll sting the competition for them, you can count on that,” promised Honey.

“They will be greatly missed by us all,” Bomble said.

“We will remember them, and continue their legacy,” stated Swax.

“I’ll miss them a lot,” Bea lamented.

Queen, using a large portion of funds from the Buzznya Royal Family’s treasury, managed to buy the organization, and save them from bankruptcy. The team greatly expressed their gratitude towards the Bumblebees but insisted that they must go.

“We’ve tried our best here, and we feel that we’re beaten,” Thank you all for being so hospitable to us, and such good rivals,” Vespa said.

The Hornets’ retirement farewell poster, created by B.J.V.

We thank the Hornets for their contributions to the Marble League and Marbula One. They will bee missed.

The Hornets would stay at the Royal Palace for the time being, with Queen opening up another wing of the palace to serve as a home for the team.

There were a lot of rumors going around at this time about the Hornets being bailed out by the Royal Family. People wondered why they didn’t just save the team.

“The truth is, while we are greatly in debt to the royal family, we don’t want to compete anymore.” Hive said. “You can count on us to show up at every event and root the Bumblebees on, but it’ll bee from the sidelines, not on the track.”

The Royal Family of Buzznya spoke out to the public after this. “You better bee-lieve that we will always be backing our teams. Or team, now. They will always have our support and financial aid when they need it. The Hornets, although retired now, will always have a spot here at the palace, and with the Bumblebees organization.”

Following the retirement, the Bumblebees became the first team to own two Marbula One tracks. With the purchase of the Hornets organization, the Hivedrive now fell into the Bumblebees’ hands (or wings?). 

“I hope we get invited to Marbula One again next season,” Bumble said. “We still have a lot to prove, and now when deciding if we want to host or not, we have two tracks we can choose from!”

“I personally have always wanted to race on the Hivedrive.” Honey said. “The hive is even bigger than ours, and I’m sure our captain would excel on there as well!”

During the extended break between Grands Prix 10 and 11, the Bumblebees spent a lot of time training at the Royal Palace with the Hornets, who had taught them their secret technique to mastering optimal speed in the hive. The teams got along really well when they weren’t playing each other in bugby, their favorite sport.

The Hornets and Bumblebees playing bugby, illustrated by SuperJackJack.

“I think we all just need to relax a little bit after the way our second half of the season has gone,” Bumble said. “We need to just take it slow, easy, and spend time with those we care about.”

The Bumblebees hoped this strategy would pay off as the Savage Speedway approached. Sadly, it would not. Honey only mustered a fifteenth-place finish, and the team’s scoreless streak continued.

“We’ve all been hit hard this half; by our poor performances, and the news of the Hornets retiring.” Honey said. “We just can’t handle the pressure right now. Hopefully, we’ll bounce back, but we need time.”

Honey at the Savage Speedway, the penultimate Grand Prix.

Time was something the Bumblebees were a little short on, however. Bumble, after another good qualification, would finish the final Grand Prix, Midnight Bay, in fifteenth. 

“I’ve let everybody down,” Bumble said after the race. “My teammates, the fans, the Hornets, everybody.” The Bumblebees would finish the season in thirteenth; a fall of ten positions from where the team sat after the Aquamaring GP.

Following a disappointing season, the team returned back to Buzznya and to the royal palace. Nectar, Beeline, and Queen welcomed the team home with wings wide open, but the mood was off. The Hornets’ retirement had clearly taken a toll on the team, as they scored a total of three points the entire second half of the season. 

“I just feel helpless,” Queen said. “We were flying high, and now the team is so down, and I don’t know what to do.”

During the offseason, the Bumblebees would try to get their mojo back. They spent a lot of time on Honeycomb Island relaxing and playing bugby with the Hornets. 

The Bumblebees at a press conference, depicted by Laurent Rollon!

“We all know what happened, and we want to move on and move past it,” Honey said at a press conference with Cable Marble Media (CMM) during the offseason. “We gave it our best shot, and that’s all we could really do. I’d rather finish poorly and with my family than on top of the podium without them. We hope to bounce back in the Marble League 2021 Qualifiers, and we’ll make sure to sting the competition; for our fans, and for the Hornets.”

The Hornets would perform one last time, in the Sand Rally Practice Round. Bumble would cross the line in seventeenth, eight spots better than Vespa. 

“Not my best effort, but it was a sentimental race for me, and I wasn’t truly focused. I still can’t beelieve that the Hornets are retiring…” Bumble sniffled.

The Hornets were invited to watch the 2021 Marble League from the stands, an opportunity they gladly took. The Bumblebees were officially joined by Nectar and Beeline now, who would be acting as managers for the team, and would be overseeing finances. The team would spend a lot of days and nights training with them, waiting, practicing, preparing for the biggest competition yet…and a chance to prove that they still had their 2018 dominance. 

In RetRollSpective, while the inhabeetants of Buzznya may only have one team to root for now; the Bumblebees have more than enough experience under their wings. If their 2018 Hubelino Tournament showing is anything to go by, you should never count out the Bumblebees—although the team still has much to prove. Best of luck to the Bumblebees in the future, keep on rolling!

Special thanks to Laurent Rollon for the Press Conference designs, SuperJackJack for the bugby image, and B.J.V. for the Hornets farewell!!

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