Something has BEEn going on in Heathcliff

Heathcliff is a comic strip about an orange cat who terrifies his neighbourhood. In recent years, the strip has gotten especially strange in a way that makes it worth checking out from time to time.

But recently the weirdness has not been the only thing to draw my attention:

August 31st: “Hey! Heathcliff is in a beekeeping outfit! And hanging out with Beekeepers! I bet I could get a review out of that!”

September 13th: “Wait, Heathcliff is in love with a Beekeeper! Is it one of the Beekeepers from the previous strip?”

October 7th: “Now he’s wearing bees and walking past some different Beekeepers? Is he trying to impress them? Is he in love with one of these two? Is he trying to pick one up after being rejected by one of the others? Or is he just walking through the Beekeeping part of town to get to his friends from the previous strip?”

The fact is, I can’t answer this stuff. I’d have to go through all of the Heathcliff comic strips and comic books and television shows and whatnot to see if there are any clues I’m missing. Often when I am coming across a Beekeeper to review in a piece of media that has existed for some time I can find some corner of the Internet devoted to that media that will catalogue the appearances I need to look out for. The venerable Heathcliff Wiki lists both “Bee” and “Bee Suit” as running gags, but with precious little other information. And, indeed, image searching for “Heathcliff beekeeper” gives a lot of results. Multiple strips where Heathcliff plays music for bees. A strip where Heathcliff avoids the police by being surrounded by a swarm of bees. It goes on like this.

Is Heathcliff himself a Beekeeper? He’s certainly enjoyed some of the perks, but apart from playing music for bees, we’ve never seen him doing the work. And even when he’s doing that we’re shown actual Beekeepers doing the actual job. But those Beekeepers are not characters. They don’t even look the same every time, so I have to assume it’s a host of different ones.

I need more information before I can review anything here, but to maintain my credibility as the world’s foremost reviewer of fictional beekeepers I had to make it know that I’m aware something is going on.

Beekeeper Review: Black Hole Sun’s Beekeeper

I have no desire to try to make sense of the whole video for the song Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden, it’s an intentionally oblique and surreal piece of work, but I am dutybound to note that it includes a Beekeeper. Said Beekeeper appears for a couple seconds, seemingly dead. How much can I mine from that? Well, let’s see.

It seems like there is an apocalypse happening. The world is messed up and the band has either caused the sun to wipe out humanity, or is just happy about it. Certainly the lyrics “Black Hole Sun, won’t you come, and wash away the rain” make it sound like they’re fed up with the state of the world and instead of actually putting any work into trying to make things better, they just petulantly want it all to be over. Well, no matter the cause, it’s happening. Things are getting strange and the world is dying.

Amidst the chaos we see a Beekeeper, laying still on the ground while a child dances nearby. Relationship between the child and the Beekeeper? Unknown. We’re simply not given that information. It could be inferred that our Ex-Apiarist was killed by his own bees, and I can’t disprove it, but I don’t think so. While the bees are crawling over the lens of the camera, none seem to be on the corpse. We do see non-bee insects attacking others within the video, most notably a couple of kids who were torturing bugs with tweezers and magnifying glasses, but those insects don’t kill anyone. The insect-bothering children are among those sucked up into the Black Hole Sun.

As far as I can discern, the Beekeeper is the only person shown to be dead from a cause prior to getting apocalypsed. If I wanted to, I could even claim perhaps the apocalypse could only happen because the Beekeeper was killed. After all, what do Beekeepers do? They hold together a society. They protect a group of lifeforms so that everyone can benefit. It’s the polar opposite of thinking everything should just die because it sucks. When not burdened by Beekeeper Rage, Beekeepers are intent on actually improving the world instead of letting it die. Perhaps the band, or whatever force caused this Black Hole Sun, needed to Beekeeper out of the picture to make the end come. I don’t know if they murdered the Beekeeper or if they just took advantage after a natural death, but I feel like if that Beekeeper were still alive, he’d be standing between the planet and the end of times.

But none of that’s in the video, so I can’t let that factor into my rating.

2 Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Rosalyn D. Schotz

Roz Schotz, better known as Grandma, is a Beekeeper who appeared on a show called Bizaardvark. Played by Ellen Ratner, Roz is the grandmother of Bernie, one of the members of the main cast of teenagers. We’re never told what happened to Bernie’s parents (though we do know that she despises the other side of his family), but Roz is Bernie’s legal guardian.

Raising Bernie, Roz is overprotective in a way she’s not when we see her chaperoning other children. This is no contradiction to her personality however. All indications are that Roz is not usually a parental type and would be fine letting children do whatever they want so long as they leave her alone. At first it seems harsh that she imposes seemingly arbitrary rules such as not being allowed to touch pointy fruit or use hot sauce, but when we see Bernie unsupervised it takes mere seconds for him to stab himself with the pointy fruit and get hot sauce in his eyes. Roz is only as strict as she is because otherwise her idiot grandson would simply be doomed. I can only assume that Roz had no intention of raising the kid, but circumstances forced her to and now she takes the job seriously.

In between the strict rules, she does teach Bernie things in the hope that he’ll develop life skills that will let him survive the world (specifically noting that she won’t be around to help him forever). She pays for his wilderness lessons. She teaches him to dance. She’s even proud when Bernie shows skill at manipulation and lying because those will help him get along in the world. And she’s also taught him some beekeeping skills. Oddly, the reveal that Roz is a Beekeeper occurs in an episode in which she doesn’t even appear. We learn about it when Bernie uses Beekeeping skills that she taught him to smoke a hive. It never comes up otherwise, so we have no idea how good she is at it. But given Bernie’s idiocy at the best of times, if he can be competent from her training, she must be good.

Of course, I like other skills in my Beekeepers as well. Is Roz tough? Heck yes. The show repeatedly goes to the “isn’t it funny that a grandmother could be tough” joke well. Roz is known to be a bareknuckle boxing champion, is in a fight club, was a medic in “the war”, has a flamethrower, and she’s known to the police in six different states. She once beat up a roomful of people in the dark. It doesn’t quite reach supernatural levels, but I would be remiss if I didn’t note that Bernie says his grandmother likes bloody videogames about hunting vampires because “they remind her of her childhood.” He doesn’t know any more about it, but if we had proper details about that Roz could have the potential to raise her score by a whole point! Only on one occasion do I remember her being shown as anything less than super-tough: when she and some kids she was looking after were surrounded by dozens of scorpions. Perhaps she simply has a phobia of the arachnids.

Of course, Roz is unfortunately susceptible to the biggest flaw found among apiarists: Beekeeper Rage. Roz openly admits that she has an anger problem and is repeatedly shown taking her doctor’s advice (do puzzles, enjoy sunsets, and cetera) to try to lower her rage levels. I have to give Roz commendations for being aware of the issue and trying to treat it. She fully admits that she hates her doctor and their advice, so I have to assume that if Roz were still living a life among her “violent friends” she may not even be trying to temper her anger. I think that the fact she’s caring for Bernie is why she is bothering, and that’s kind of nice.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. A solid Beekeeper who cares for her grandson as best as she can.

The Hornet Bisection

As a booster of beekeepers, and by extension bees, I feel like I should have a strong opinion on hornets one way or the other. I don’t really. I figure they’re out there doing work the same as anyone else. But when one gets into my apartment, I want it out of there.

This is why, mere moments ago, when I found a hornet in my living room I tried to gently usher it out by capturing it under a glass and doing the thing where you slip a paper under the glass and all that. You know what I mean. I’ve done this successfully before with hornets and other insects. But this time, either because I was tired or because it was jumpy and moved too quickly, instead of being trapped in the glass, it was crushed under the edge of the glass and cut nearly in half. I’d wanted be merciful, but fate wouldn’t have it. So I took the remains and placed them in the soil of my potted plant Borson, and I am making a post here on my website to honour a little insect that fell through no fault of its own.

(Also, it’s entirely possible it was a wasp. I genuinely can’t tell.)

I am reminded about how when I was a child I tried to make a deal with God that I would never unknowingly crush an insect under my feet while walking. I don’t know what I was offering God in return. I figured, if I see an insect as I stride along, I can handle the pressure of correcting course to make sure everyone is happy with the outcome. But if I don’t know its there, what can I do? I don’t want to step on anyone.

I guess I was a little wiener kid and now I’m a big wiener kid. I just don’t want to step on anyone. Or bisect them with glass. Can’t always get what you want, though, PDR.

Beekeeper Review: Higglytown’s Beekeeper Hero

As near as I can tell, Higglytown Heroes was a show about all the different occupations people have in Higglytown. It must have been made by people with good taste, because there’s an episode about a Beekeeper. Kids need to learn. The episode, called “Two Bees or Not Two Bees” naturally, features some kids and some old people and a squirrel (presumably the main cast) who are saddened to learn that the bushes that should be full of higglyberries are not. They summon the Beekeeper to help them figure out what happened.

When she arrives, the Beekeeper Hero investigates a beehive near the bushes and finds it is abandoned (what happened to the bees is unknown), so she has her own bees pollinate the area. She does all this while giving educational lessons to the children. A month later the berries have grown, so the Beekeeper Hero treats the kids to delicious treats of berries and honey. But when the kids hail her as a hero, she makes sure to deflect that thanks to the bees, who are the real heroes. That’s a classy move.

Apart from impeccably-trained bees, does she have any supernatural powers that seem to be different than all the other toy-people of her world? Not that we see. But she has bee-shaped earrings, which is nice.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.