Beekeeper Review: Beekeeper Smurf

I don’t know why I didn’t think to look into the Smurfs franchise for a beekeeper sooner. I mean, they have Smurfs for everything. And sure enough, this guy exists:

He exists, but just barely. Beekeeper Smurf appears only in a video game* called the Smurfs Village Game, which means that even the profile on the Smurfs wiki considers him non-canon. As such, there’s not much information. Here’s what I do know:

Beekeeper Smurf is already a Smurf, and lives in a world full of magic and adventure. But sadly, we have no proof that he has ever contributed to the magic or adventure in that world. He appears to just be a mostly decorative feature in the game, and mostly a non-entity in the village. The only very interesting thing about him is that his bees seem to be very small, judging by the size of his hives compared to his three-apples-tall frame. Even the two bees we see hanging around him seem too large for those hives, so either it’s tiny bees or he just has a handful of extremely efficient ones. That’s all we have. He’s got jars of honey, though, so whatever the case, it works for him.

2 Honeycombs out of Five.

*Full Disclosure: I didn’t bother the play this game. That sounds like I’m not doing my due diligence as the world’s foremost Fictional Beekeeper Reviewer, but I say the fact I spent half an hour researching this at all is a sign of my credentials.

Beekeeper Review: Sheldon Quick

“There is more to life than this crazy, sick-headed preoccupation with honey, honey, honey, everything for honey—and death to anybody who can’t make honey!”

Listen: Kurt Vonnegut is probably my favorite author. I don’t like choosing favorites, but if I had to, he’s the one I’d pick. So when I learned this week that a previously unpublished Vonnegut Story was just put online, I was very happy. When I learned it was about a beekeeper… Well, that’s a thrill I will probably never see replicated.

Vonnegut Beekeeper! This is a top-priority review!

Now, as the world’s foremost reviewer of fictional beekeepers, I will remain objective here. This, as always, is a review of the beekeeper, not the work in which the beekeeper appears. The beekeeper will be judged on their beekeeping abilities, any supernatural or fighting abilities they have, and their ability to overcome Beekeeper Rage.

Sheldon Quick is our beekeeper here. Around fifty years old, he spends most of his time in the Millennium Club, a club for wealthy gentlemen. But, as the fortune left to him by his father is dwindling, very soon his club membership will end. But for a year or so he has been experimenting on bees with the intent to start a business that will recoup his wealth, and also save an oppressed group: male honeybees.

Quick plans to get rich by using drones, who would have otherwise been killed by their hives after the mating season is done, to send messages, carrier pigeon-style. He is not deterred by the fact that vastly superior communication systems exist. The sympathy he feels for the poor drones is so strong that he feels that alone is reason enough for the venture, which he describes as the “greatest thing in humanitarianism since the New Testament.” He creates a males-only hive (a “Bee Millenium Club”) where the drones get to live without the threat from the females. Like a pigeon returning home, the drones will always return to their club, so they work as couriers of tiny little messages. I mean, the plan fails of course (the drones happen to see a queen fly by and that’s the end of that), but Quick did succeed in setting up the all-male hive.

Quick has some sexist views, that’s for sure. He hides in the Millennium Club because women aren’t allowed in, and he fixates on occasions in nature where females kill males (in addition to the honeybee drones, he mentions praying mantises and tarantulas, as examples). It’s probable that he went through some bad experiences and came through with a lot of hatred. But he is, at least, trying to focus his Rage on a mission that is nice. As he says to the reporters who witness his failure “Report me as a fool, if you must … But report me as a fool with one of the kinder, grander dreams of our time.”

Enough summary. Time for review. Is he a good beekeeper? Well, he manages to run ten hives successfully enough to build up his stock of drones. He has no apparent preternatural connection to most of the bees (they sting him, but he has nothing but contempt for the females anyway), but he gets along with the drones. His experimentation is the sort of thing I like to see fictional beekeepers try (there should always be an element of a mad scientist to a beekeeper). He doesn’t seem like much of a fighter (though he is described as “very tall” so he has a physicality that might allow for physical strength), and though he comes from wealth it is not a lineage of ancient beekeepers or anything great like that. Apart from the experimentation, the most impressive thing about Quick is that he is trying to focus his Rage somewhere constructive.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. He’s a broken man, and his dumb idea fails, but he is a decent beekeeper and he wants to do what he thinks is right. And I feel bad for him.

Beekeeper Reviews: C.T. Young

C.T. Young (whose initials don’t stand for anything) appears in the 1953 film Bright Road. C.T. is a troubled student who is singled out by Miss Richards, a new teacher who hopes to turn him around. Indeed, C.T. does not see the point of going to places like school and church, and when there he is completely unable to hide how much he doesn’t want to be there. It takes him two years to get through every grade and the old teachers have given up on him as a “backwards child”. But he isn’t a bad child. He doesn’t really associate with the other schoolchildren much, apart from his girlfriend Tanya, but he is extremely well behaved at home where he not only helps take care of the kids who are younger than him, but also uses the profits from selling his honey to do things like buy paint for the house. For Christmas, he even gives a jar of that honey, his only source of income, to his mother with a note saying it is “from the bees” and that’s pretty cute. C.T. loves other animals too. He has a dog named Come Here (who, incidentally, seems to be smart enough to warn him when he is running late for school), sings along with birds, and is fascinated by a caterpillar going into a cocoon which is a useful metaphor for his own story. Basically, C.T. is a very good child who just doesn’t fit into the usual schooling methods and that’s what Miss Richards sees in him. She recognizes that he is skilled at drawing and encourages him there. She also catches him helping another kid with math problems, proving that he may not care enough to do it for his own sake, but he’ll do it to help someone else.

But I’m not here to review good children. Lets focus on the beekeeping stuff. Of the bees he says, “Me and them, we’re sort of in business. They make a little honey, I sell it.” It doesn’t sound like he makes a lot of money, but the fact he makes any is a good start. At the film’s climax, a swarm of bees comes through the open classroom window looking for somewhere to hive. C.T. is unfazed as he stops the other students from panicking or harming the bees, grabs the queen, places her in a jar, and carries her, his hand covered in bees, to find a nice tree in the woods where they can live.

Unfortunately, that is a redemptive moment for an earlier bit of Beekeeper Rage. Granted, it takes an awful lot for C.T. to work up to that moment of anger. His girlfriend Tanya dies of pneumonia, which is understandably something one would be upset about. Then, after he returns to school, having skipped for a while, he finds classmates singing the “Three Blind Mice” song, which has always upset him for its imagery of cutting off tails of the mice (he loves animals that much). He reacts to this song by grabbing a jump-rope and swinging it around as a weapon to lash out at everyone, then gets into a fistfight with another student.

I like my beekeepers to be good fighters, and though that C.T.’s only fight is a Beekeeper Rage moment is sad, he does acquit himself well. He is also able to take several hits on the hands with a ruler from the principal without flinching. And, though he is told he must apologize, he notes that, after he saved everyone from the bees, he was forgiven without needing to apologize. Way to get a moral victory, C.T.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

For the record, the movie is based off a short story called “See How They Run” by Mary Elizabeth Vroman, but in that story there is no mention of C.T. keeping bees, so it is not canon here.

Beekeeper Review: Conly

“You want to ride the bees? Okay, if you think you can!”
He turns toward the inside of the hut.
“No stinging, friends!” he yells. Then he snatches the flask from Zelda and disappears into the back of the hut.

This is an obscure one. Conly appeared in a Choose Your Own Adventure type book based on the Zelda franchise called The Crystal Trap. In the book, the villain Ganon has captured Link and Zelda has a time limit to save him. Along the way, she encounters a hermetic Beekeeper and it can either go well, or not go well. If Zelda heads to his hut as soon as she hears about him, he angrily attacks her with his bees. If she spends time doing other things and learns what he wants, he helps her save the day.

Conly lives just outside of the town of Ruto, only recently come there as a stranger. The people of Ruto eye him with suspicion because he is an “unfriendly old coot” with magic bees and he won’t let anyone taste his honey. Described as a “short round man dressed in heavy robes” he certainly has the symptoms of someone suffering from Beekeeper Rage. In the bad path, when Zelda just shows up and declares she is in a hurry to save Link, Conly sics his bees on her without a thought (though it should be noted that his bees do not kill her in this ending, they just cause her to run blindly through the woods so she falls into a pit). In the good path, in which Zelda offers him some fairy flower sap, an ingredient in his favorite drink, Conly is perfectly happy to take the payment. He not only gives her the honey, but agrees to let her use the bees as transportation. Is it possible that the people of the Ruto just refuse to pay for the honey and Conly’s curmudgeonly reputation is just because he’s sick of moochers? Could be, but we’ve nothing to prove he’s particularly nice either.

Conly’s magic bees sound pretty cool. From a distance they resemble blue and gold sparks, they live in Conly’s hut (entering and exiting through the chimney), they respond to Conly’s requests, and they are capable of surrounding Zelda to carry her off to the castle where she has to save Link. Sounds like some quality bees to me.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Reviews: Friar Tuck

The 2010 movie Robin Hood is not something I’m willing to talk about at length, but it did have one thing going for it: in this movie, Friar Tuck is a beekeeper. As a way to add some meaning to his life (he describes himself as not being “churchy”), Tuck keeps bees and makes mead from their honey. He says of his bees, “I keep them and they keep me,” and describes them as his family. And naturally when there is a big climactic fight, he throws a couple of skeps into a building to have his bees attack the enemy. All perfectly good stuff for the things I want in a fictional Beekeeper.

Time to rate him.

There’s nothing in this one movie that merits him ranking above 3/5, but Tuck has something that your average 3/5 doesn’t: he is a figure of legend. There are hundreds of interpretations of Tuck, and we must consider the whole canon. In spite of his fatness and frequent drunkenness, he is often shown as a fighter the equal of Robin himself. I’ve seen him as an expert swordsman, I’ve seen him fight with a staff. And even when he is portrayed as a comical blunderer, he is still willing to fight for what is right. His monastic position would make him much more educated than most of his fellows of the era, and hatred of corruption in the Church seems like an excellent outlet for Beekeeper Rage. Throughout the legends there is definitely enough there to rank him a 4/5.

The important thing is that we, the loyal fans of the Beekeepers, try to make sure that the idea of Tuck as a Beekeeper remains part of the legend. He’s a public domain figure. We can do it. Please don’t let this movie be the only depiction of Beekeeper Tuck we ever have.