Beekeeper Review: The Beekeepers of Summersisle

Today’s Beekeepers are from the 2006 movie The Wicker Man. It isn’t a good movie.

Summersisle is an island in the Pacific Northwest which is home to an insular farming community. The big industry on the island is beekeeping. They don’t have a lot of connection to the outside world, but they do sell their honey and other bee-related products online. They make mead for their own use. There are some windows shaped like honeycombs and statues or hives and stuff. They also have “old ways” for treating people allergic to bee stings. In fact, they seem to just generally like nature, as almost everyone seems to be named after after flowers and trees and stuff. On the surface, the place seems absolutely quaint. But they sure are secretive. They just don’t plain like outsiders. So what is up?

It apparently “takes quite a few [beekeepers] to keep order around” Summersisle, but not everyone on the island is an active apiarist. Still, everyone there shares a belief system, so whole don’t intimately get to know any beekeepers, we know that the sort of values they’d have.

Summersisle is a matriarchal society to an extreme. They are, or at least claim, to be descended from Celtic ancestors who “rebelled against suppression of the feminine” and immigrated to America just in time to set up shop around Salem as the whole witch-burning things were going down. Sad to see oppression of women continue, they headed West until they found their current home. But their noble goals of equality have not worked out, because now, in the present, men on Summersisle are the oppressed ones. Male children aren’t educated, they grow up to only be used for manual labour, and they are completely unwilling, perhaps psychologically unable to communicate with outsiders. What does any of that have to do with the beekeeping? Well, it is implied that this is meant to be an evocative the dynamic in a hive, with the queen and all that. The “queen” of Summersisle is one Sister Summersisle, and apparently rulership is a hereditary thing. There’s a level higher than her, though, as they all worship a “great mother goddess” who they feel rules the island. And that’s where things get even worse.

The year before the events of the movie, the island had a failed crop. This is apparently a very rare occurrence, having only happened a few times in the island’s history, but they have a way of dealing with this sort of thing: A bizarre ritual sacrifice they get from a book called “Rituals of the Ancients” which they feel will please their goddess and make everything right again. It’s a dumb ritual. It requires them to find a male stranger who is connected to them by blood. They will call him the drone, for bee-theme reasons. They will run the drone through a dumb obstacle course of confusing scenes and motivations, with the end result that he will be a hunter who they will then hunt and he will come to them willingly. Or something. Outside of the fiction, the confusion is done to keep things mysterious until the end reveal, but within the story, why are they acting like that. It seems to me like it’d be considerably easier to lure the drone in without half the weirdness. How much of their weirdness is legitimate weirdness, and how much is them trying to make him suspicious? And even beyond that, they kill the pilot who brought him to the island because he betrayed them, but they wanted the drone to come to the island, so they totally set that pilot up to be killed. They’re jerks.

Look, I suspect they are decent beekeepers in general, but their belief in this ritual makes me doubt if they actually know what they’re doing.

2 Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: The Dwarves of Honeystoker

The story of Honeystoker appears in a series of Youtube videos by a person named Kruggsmash who makes narrative fiction by playing a game called Dwarf Fortress, to which he adds drawings to the videos that makes the Dwarf Fortress graphics tolerable. Say what you will about the Youtube algorithm, it was absolutely correct when it suggested this to me.

Honeystoker (or Stetargusgash in the native tongue) is a Dwarven stronghold with an important detail: the dwarves living therein are beekeepers! Now, I am reluctant to give away most of the story details for this one. The thing just ended a week or so ago after all. But I will focus just on their beekeeping and see how they rate at the job.

Honeystoker’s dwarves were not that type of apiarists who come from some long lineage of apiarists who have been refining their skill for generations. No, at the founding of this fortress they were complete rookies. They only became beekeepers because the rich patron paying for them told them to (and he had ulterior motives we need not get into here). And admittedly, it looked bad when it took two years for them to make their first jug of honey, but they got better in time and embraced beekeeping with gusto.

They did all the standard things a colony of beekeepers might do, such as making honey, mead, and wax crafts (the latter of which they encrusted with gems to increase their value), and they had cool stone hives shaped like dwarf heads, which is pretty great. But they would also go beyond the standard beekeeping stuff in other ways, such as when they decorated their walls with honeycomb designs and bee statues, as well as one particularly awesome bit of beekeeper-inspired bit of architecture: the hallway pictured above, which is full of stinging spike traps to foil invaders. Definitely the kind of trap a badass beekeeper unit would design.

It has to be admitted that as the fortress grew, they diversified into other industries, so not all the dwarves living in Honeystoker are active beekeepers. But some are. Most notably Zutthan Avuzelis. Zutthan was the dwarf who first discovered the wild bees that began the fortress’s colonies and remained on the job much longer than her companions. She was described as meek and compassionate, but quick to anger, which sounds like a classic case of Beekeeper Rage to me. Zutthan would eventually go on to join the military of Honeystoker and, while not being the kind of unstoppable fighting machine I like to see in a beekeeper, she served well until being wounded, after which she returned to easier tasks, presumably including beekeeping. If everyone in the fortress had given up on beekeeping, they would rate much lower, but Zutthan was true to the job which counts for a lot.

Everything I have described so far could work even for a normal beekeeper, but these dwarves live in a fantasy world, so surely they must have some supernatural talents, right? Certainly! Even before they became successful beekeepers one of them managed to calmly carry 18411 bees by hand, which is mighty impressive. The dwarves also seemed to quickly grow accustomed to being stung by bees, possibly even becoming immune to the venom. On an occasion when a flood filled the part of the fortress with the hives, the bees seem to be barely affected. All of these are minor but important examples of possible supernatural beekeeping. But there’s a catch: the dwarves of Honeystoker absolutely check the box for supernatural for another reason. But, beyond making them better fighters, that reason is not related to their beekeeping, so I won’t discuss it here. Just rest assured, they fit the bill.

Ultimately the story of Honeystoker is one of dwarves trying to survive in a world that was dangerous. In the process they became pretty good beekeepers and fought to carve a place for their kind in that dangerous world. What more could beekeepers do?

4 Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Zelda’s Bee Guy

Today we head back into the Zelda franchise for a beekeeper less obscure than the previously reviewed Conly, but only just barely so. The fact that this one is only known as the “Bee Guy” tell you that this is not a prominent character. But Zelda is a game franchise, and the Bee Guy, unlike Conly, actually has been in one of the games.

Appearing in “A Link Between Worlds”, the Bee Guy is a bee-pun spewing fan of bees who, from what we’re shown anyway, seems to focus more on the capture of bees than the keeping of them. There are no hives visible around his home and he claims to have been catching bees for a long time. Indeed he has a lot of nets around for just such a purpose, one of which he gives to Link to help him capture wild bees. So what’s the deal here? Why no hives? I have a theory:

This guy clearly loves bees. So much so that he dresses like one and seems to be putting great financial resources toward his bee collection project. What if the Bee Guy is the first real beekeeper in Hyrule? Or at the very least, he’s learning how to do it without knowledge passed down from previous beekeepers. He may simply not know how to keep bees, rather he’s learning as he goes. For decades, perhaps, he has been capturing wild bees one by one and getting them to like him and work with him, but he hasn’t had a means to actually start a real colony of bees of his own. You see, the rarest of the bees, the ones for which the Bee Guy gives the highest rewards, is the Golden Bee. He says he’s never seen one. When Link does bring him a Golden Bee, the Bee Guy describes it as “a queen of bees”. This could actually be his first time acquiring a queen, and thus the one thing he needs to start a beekeeping operation in earnest. He’s known they exist, but never had one until now.

It’s important to note that when Link gives him a Golden Bee, he gives Link a Bee Badge. When Link wears the Bee Badge, the wild bees of Hyrule will no longer attack him. They’ll actually go out of their way to attack his enemies. It’s clear that the bees recognize the badge as the Bee Guy’s mark, and they respect him enough to respond to it. His decades working with bees one on one have not been in vain. I have a feeling that his beekeeping operation is going to be alright.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. With the disadvantage of not knowing what he’s doing, the Bee Guy has still made impressive strides in the apiary field.

Beekeeper Review: Barbie Millicent Roberts

Barbie has been a beekeeper. Of course she has. This should surprise nobody. Barbie is, perhaps, the person to master the most varied collection of skills in the world. She makes Batman look like a slacker. So she’s a beekeeper. But how Beekeeper is she?

Well, one of the great advantages of beekeeping is that it allows time for other pursuits. Beekeepers can climb the world’s highest mountains or make discoveries that will form the science of genetics and still be beekeepers. Beekeepers love to multi-task. But I feel like, if anything, Barbie has stretched herself too thin across her various occupations. I feel like she’s never really sat down and focused on her beekeeping.

So here I hit a fork in the road. Is Barbie a woman who does everything, including beekeeping, or is she a beekeeper who does everything else as well? Sadly, I think it’s the former. It’s a shame, because as far as I’ve been able to suss out, Barbie has no problem with Beekeeper Rage, and the fact she’s served in the military (as evidenced by various other toys) suggests she has combat skills. There’s definitely media out there about Barbie solving mysteries. I’d bet there’s even Barbie tales in which she has supernatural powers. She has everything I want in a beekeeper, but not enough beekeeping.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

This has got to be the highest a Beekeeper can rank without actually dedicating their life to it.

Beekeeper Review: Gutierrez

Today’s beekeeper is the famous Gutierrez, best known as Andy Richter’s personal beekeeper. Okay, “famous” may be overstating it. Even “known” is not quite accurate. Actually, this is probably as obscure as any beekeeper review could possibly get.

It’s like this: One time on Conan O’Brien’s show in the 90s, they were doing a bit in which Andy Richter was hiding. Gutierrez was one of numerous people who were said to not know where Andy was. That’s it. That’s all we’ve got. He just shrugged and the camera moved on. Conan even stopped to comment on how much budget was probably wasted on the costume for such a stupid moment.

But now to review him: Conan says “He’s clueless, Gutierrez” but that’s only regarding his knowledge about where Andy is at that given moment. He’s probably good at the beekeeping. He’s a professional, after all. And that’s enough for now.

Two Honeycombs out of Five.

Gutierrez’s most important Beekeeper Power is the ability to be easily reviewed in about twenty minutes so that I can get a Review up before this month’s deadline without having to read a whole book or something. Thanks, Gutierrez!