Beekeeper Review: Goronwy

“Never underestimate the powers of nature”

Today’s Beekeeper comes from an old-school episode of Doctor Who called Delta and the Bannermen. Goronwy Jones (using the surname that only appeared in the script because I like to be thorough) is a Welsh Beekeeper who gets caught up in one of the Doctor’s wacky adventures and doesn’t bat an eye. That’s the main thing about Goronwy: he is not surprised by much. In this story a time-travelling alien asks Goronwy to help protect some other aliens from an army of still more aliens. During none of this does Goronwy question anything, he just happily lends his home and beekeeping supplies to the cause. During the tense confrontation, Goronwy takes the time to explain beekeeping stuff to anyone who will listen and can be seen casually reading a book. The only explanation is that Goronwy has seen weirder stuff before.

Am I suggesting that Goronwy may even know the Doctor before this in some time-travel sense? Am I suggesting that he may even have been, in his youth, a companion to some version of the Doctor that we have not yet seen? Am I suggesting that he may be the most important character to ever appear in Doctor Who and even the Doctor doesn’t know it yet? Of course I am suggesting all of that. That’s what these Beekeeper Reviews are about, aren’t they? But actually, the episodes do make the case that Goronwy has a history, if not with the Doctor, with weirdness at least. When some Americans looking for a fallen satellite ask if he’s seen anything strange fall from the sky, Goronwy says “I’ve seen many things fall out of the sky, but nothing that could be described as weird” and he talks of strange lights (presumably UFOs) that he’s seen around the area. And does his own history with the bees seem supernatural? Well, it’s certainly mysterious that he can’t even say how long he’s been doing the job (because of time travel or old-person memory? Who can say?) and he suggests that he can talk to his bees, saying “They know everything that happens.” Even without my bias, we’ve got hints that this guy is far from an “ordinary” beekeeper.

At the end of the story, Goronwy gives the Doctor some honey and, as the Doctor furtively slips away from the Americans in the Tardis, Goronwy gives the camera a knowing wink. There’s definitely something up with this guy, everyone.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: H. P. Lovecraft’s Beekeeper

“On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the time-stained blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an old bee-keeper who lives in the neighbouring cottage told me a different story.”

Today I am reviewing a beekeeper from the works of H. P. Lovecraft. I expect that even the most devoted fans of Lovecraft would barely remember this character, though, given that he is alluded to but twice in a minor Lovecraft story, “The Tree“. He doesn’t even do anything in the story. Basically, this story is narrated by some chump. That chump tells a story that was related to him by a beekeeper. Thus, the beekeeper is neither the narrator, nor is he actually a part of the story of the tree.

What do we know about this guy? Not much. He’s Greek. He’s old. And he knows this story. He automatically gets Two Honeycombs for being a good beekeeper (one doesn’t get to be an old beekeeper if one is not good at it, after all), but I could infer more. Maybe this beekeeper actually knows a lot more than this one story. Perhaps he knows all manner of secrets of the Lovecraftian universe and all its monsters and such. It seems entirely likely that this beekeeper is a major force in protecting humanity. Nobody out there can prove me wrong! But, unfortunately, this story also can not prove me right.

Two Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Astro City’s Beekeeper

The world of Astro City is rife with superheroes and villains, so it is no surprise that there is one who called himself “The Beekeeper”. As ever, the superhero universe Beekeepers don’t get too creative with their names.

This Beekeeper was active in the 60s as a super-criminal. Using a weapon called a hive-scepter, he was able to control bees to do his bidding, and was probably able to fly given those big wings on his back. We don’t know how successful he was as a criminal, but we do know he ended up getting caught and spent time in prison. After that, he gave up the life of crime, became an entomology professor, and lived a normal life until he was in his eighties. At some point, he seems to have sold one of his hive-scepters, which was a mistake, because someone used it to frame him for some crimes. When the police came to investigate, the octogenarian reacted poorly and got back into costume and fought back. It’s sad that it happened, but it does say something about his fighting skills that it took a lot of police to bring him in, even in his advanced age.

Astro City’s Beekeeper has only had about three pages of screen time. Sure, he gets to boss around bees and fly, but we don’t know what else he’s got. Did he have a whole beehive-themed lair? He could have. We just don’t know. We don’t even know if he actually kept bees for non-crime purposes. The fact he ended up teaching suggests that he knows about them, though. I always dock a point for beekeepers who turn to evil, it’s a sign that they can’t contain their Beekeeper Rage, but it is a shame that I have to do it for this guy. He stayed on the straight and narrow for decades between his initial crime spree and when he was framed. But still, he has to lose that point for villainy.

3 Honeycombs out of Five. Given Astro City’s nature, we could learn more someday. I don’t expect it, but I can dream.

Beekeeper Review: Dr. Lorenz

“You see, my friends, through the centuries, man has sought to master the bee. And although she has shared with him most generously her produce, the bee went about her daily toils obeying not the commands of man, but the laws of her own civilization and culture.”

In 1955, an episode Science Fiction Theatre titled “The Strange Doctor Lorenz” introduce a strange doctor, named Lorenz. Dr. Lorenz is a beekeeper.

Dr. Lorenz (portrayed by Edmund Gwenn) is an elderly chemist who, with an assistant named George, lives in a house in a swamp near some small town called Dexter. There, in addition to farming honey, he conducts experiments with the help of his bees. The primary invention that benefits Lorenz’s work is a method for communicating with bees via “controlled use of artificial ultra-violet rays” that has allowed him to completely understand the bees’ language. Lorenz has shown nothing but respect for the bees, and they in turn like him and are happy to help him out.

Beyond that his experiments have been more along lines that one would actually expect from a chemist. He is working on a curative form of royal jelly which can heal even the most serious of wounds. While Lorenz is not a medical doctor, the townsfolk around the swamp apparently are confused by his “doctor” title and often summon him for aid in times of medical emergency. Lorenz is happy to help, but will only use his special jelly in cases of life or death. But why doesn’t he use it to heal everyone? Why doesn’t he go public with his discoveries? Well, the tragedy here is that the jelly is still not perfected. Its healing effects are only temporary, and continued use of the jelly makes the subject deadly allergic to bees, a single sting being enough to instantly kill them. Until this can be improved upon, Lorenz will only treat those who would be otherwise doomed, and whom he can keep a watch on. (Lorenz himself would seem to be at risk, but the bees would never have any reason to sting him.)

What else? Lorenz is not a fighter, but when a man breaks into his home and tries to steal from him, he does release the bees, which is an accepted beekeeper combat technique of course. Furthermore, he is a quirky fellow and, for some reason, he goes to bed at 8:30 on the dot every night, even if he has to leave a conversation unfinished to do it. We’re never given a reason for that, so I could easily claim this routine is his way of keeping his Beekeeper Rage from flaring up. It is, if nothing else, impressive how he can apparently tell the time without the need for a clock.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

Eventually, knowing that he is getting too old to see his research to the end, so he leaves his work to a doctor named Fred Garner. Let’s hope that Fred is able to perfect the curative jelly one day.

Beekeeper Review: Nailbiter’s Beekeeper

This unfortunately unnamed beekeeper comes from a comic called Nailbiter. I will be trying to avoid spoilers, in case people reading it stumble upon this site through a search engine or whatever, but here’s what you need to know: there is a small town called Buckaroo that has produced a higher number of serial killers than any other place, and certainly more than would be expected from such a small place. Obviously, people get curious.

One of the protagonists of the book is an FBI agent whose investigation leads today’s beekeeper. Actually, he first meets the beekeeper’s grandson Roger, who runs the honey farm in his grandfather’s stead. Gramps is too busy being contained in the basement, because Roger seems to think he would be dangerous to the world at large. From what we see, Gramps mostly spends his time just dissecting bees.

Whether the cause of the serial killers is supernatural is part of the comic’s mystery, but as in so many cases, I am here to argue that the beekeeper, at least, absolutely has supernatural powers. Let’s get to it. First of all, there is near constant rain in Buckaroo, and the bees don’t mind at all. That’s cool. That’s a start. Is he immune to bee stings? Not really. He says he is “for some reason invulnerable to their many stings. It hurts and I blister, but I… do not die.” I mean, that’s something, but not enough to really build my case upon. He makes a comment that suggests he could smell bee pheromones, which is better. But perhaps the biggest sign of preternatural power is actually present in his biggest downfall: the Beekeeper Rage.

When he flips out on the investigator, his bees attack for him, which suggests a connection. He specifically says that he delights in watching his bees attack the intruder, and he barely notices that his grandson is collateral damage in that attack. There is no doubt that this guy suffers from the Rage. But in spite of that, he is not one of the town’s serial killers. He is in on the secrets of the town (and may have even been involved long ago), but instead of givin’ in to the killin’, he notes that he has only killed once, when he was young and stupid. What’s more, he has used his time as a crazy basement person studying bees because he believes he can learn from them to save the town and improve humanity. It is almost as if he saw the evil the world could offer and directed his Rage toward trying to change it. That’d be a good thing if he were better at it, but at least he tried. At least he resisted that allure of serial killing.

Anyway, neither he nor his grandson survive the story.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.
For posterity, Roger, who is a more normal beekeeper would rate a 2. It is mentioned that honey farming used to be a big industry in Buckaroo until about twenty years before the story. If that is when Roger took over, it’s a sign that he’s not supernatural enough to have kept things going.