Beekeeper Review: The Far Side’s Beekeepers

The Far Side is an often-brilliant non-serialized single-panel comic by Gary Larsen, and it was definitely one of the stones upon which my joy of reading comics was built. Naturally a comic which had to find a new topic every day for so long covered did touch upon Beekeepers, though I only remember one occasion. Luckily, that strip went up onto the official Far Side page today, so now I can finally review the two Beekeepers contained therein.

There’s only so much that I can glean from this panel, but what there is seems to indicate successful Beekeepers. They have multiple hives and lots of seemingly healthy bees going about. And I think their dancing is a sign that they are good at working together. They seem to have a nice healthy relationship and I approve of it. I ship them, as the kids say.

I can also make a case that their dancing could indicate something beyond mere ordinary apiary skill. The strip’s joke grows out of the fact that bees dance as a means of communication. Is it possible then that these Beekeepers have developed a method of dancing that allows them to communicate with their bees? I see no reason to assume otherwise.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Mr. Wilkins and Brittany

Heads up! Got another Scooby Doo-related Beekeeper coming at you!

Last year, when I covered the Bee-Man of Alcatraz, I found a Scooby Doo villain who was a Beekeeper and whose actual crimes were not depicted in the story, but instead we came in while the Gang was wrapping up their case. This time we have a Scooby Doo villain who was a beekeeper and we come in while the Gang is wrapping up their case, but this time the crime is more complex, so we actually get to see part of it.

The crime that we didn’t get to see this time was the theft of a lot of goods from a hotel. Gold chains, paintings, watches. Someone just came and stole a whole bunch of assorted valuable things from a hotel. We don’t know for sure that the criminal was wearing a monster costume, but this is the Scooby Doo universe, so it seems more than likely. And there is indeed a monster-masked beekeeper seen on the cover of the issue, so even if it doesn’t come up inside, I think we have to assume the culprit scared off witnesses by posing as a “Beastly Beekeeper” or “Eerie Apiarist” or something along those lines.

Naturally, when faced with a Beekeeper-themed foe, the Gang would check out the nearby Wilkins Honey farm, owned by one Mr. Wilkins. As the story begins, they find and unmask Mr. Wilkins as he retrieves some of the stolen goods from his hives.

But Mr. Wilkins didn’t do it!

He was framed by one of his honey farm employees! Brittany. She is the one who stole the stuff and hid it in the hives. And what’s more, when the Gang make their first incorrect unmasking, Brittany hatches a clever plan: she has Velma stung by a bee, then uses her “expertise” as a beekeeper to recommend that she be kept in the hospital overnight. This keeps Velma and the Gang distracted and not thinking too closely about their case, while Brittany attempts to gather what remains of her stolen treasures. It doesn’t work in the long run, but it’s a decent plan. How many Scooby Doo villains have actually hospitalized a member of the Gang, after all?

If, as I assume, Brittany was wearing the Beastly Beekeeper mask while she performed her crimes, you could consider it stupid or foolish to then hide the stolen goods at the nearby apiary. But, since she’s trying to frame her boss, it makes sense. As far as Beekeeper-related criminal plans go, it’s not the worst.

Really, I could review these two separately, given they are at odds, but for simplicity I’ve combined them into one. Wilkins, we know, is a successful apiarist who has a whole farm named after himself, so either he’s that good or he comes from a line of Beekeepers. Either way, that’s an impressive start. What gives him the final push from average to just above average is that he gets to hang out with the Gang and deliver the story’s variant on the “Meddling Kids” line.

Brittany is has (again, I am assuming) a Beekeeper-themed costumed identity, uses her Beekeeping as part of her repertoire of tricks, and she’s successful enough that she, as I say, hospitalized a member of the Scooby Gang after making them all identify a criminal incorrectly. The thing that brings her down from awesome to just above average is that she’s a criminal, and I never condone the bad guys in these reviews.

That means both of these Beekeepers get:

3 Honeycombs out of Five each. Just above average.

Beekeeper Review: Albert Taylor

“All his life Albert Taylor had been fascinated by anything that had to do with bees. As a small boy heoften used to catch them in his bare hands and go running with them into the house to show to his mother, and sometimes he would put them on his face and let them crawl about over his cheeks and neck, and the astonishing thing about it all was that he never got stung. On the contrary, the bees seemed to enjoy being with him. They never tried to fly away, and to get rid of them he would have to brush them off gently with his fingers. Even then they would frequently return and settle again on his arm or hand or knee, any place where the skin was bare.”

Albert is a Beekeeper who appeared in the short story “Royal Jelly” by Roald Dahl. In many ways I feel like he had potential for a solid Beekeeper by my standards. Sure, he does have any of the adventure-related stuff that I like to see, but he’s genuinely good at keeping bees. He even keeps up to date on articles in Beekeeping magazines, following the scientific research pertaining to the field and the “miracles of the hive”. But it can’t be as good as it seems, of course.

Scientific research and experimentation are things that pair well with Beekeeping, both in the real world and in fiction, but Albert’s attempt to use that knowledge is somewhat irresponsible. When Albert and his wife Mabel have trouble starting a family, Albert sees research about the benefits of taking royal jelly and it does indeed help them to have a daughter. When that daughter is sickly, he treats her with royal jelly as well. That’s all well and good, but Albert goes much further than just treating their issues. He devotes a significant portion of his hives to the production of royal jelly and he takes and gives his daughter so much jelly that it begins to have a mutagenic effect, making them more beelike. And Albert considers this the ideal outcome. He is to become a drone and his daughter a queen.

Albert is not a victim of Beekeeper Rage, far from it, but he’s got an issue I don’t think I’ve come across before, a sort of zeal to become a bee. Beekeeping is about working alongside the bees, human and insect each bringing their own talents to the team. Albert’s attempt to become a bee is something other than Beekeeping. Something unhealthy. We don’t see how it ends, but I doubt it goes well.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Uncle Boonmee

Boonmee is the title character of the film Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives. He’s a Thai farmer who, as of the events of the movie, is suffering from a kidney illness that will lead to his death.

The film uses a dreamy logic to let one’s imagination run wild, which is neat and all, but it makes it hard for a humble Beekeeper Reviewer to get his facts straight. I like my Beekeepers to have supernatural powers, but it’s hard to judge here. For example, if Boonmee is, in fact, capable of recalling his past lives it doesn’t come up much beyond knowing that the cave in which he dies is one in which he was born in some other life. But reincarnation isn’t the only supernatural element in the film. In the time leading up to his death, Boonmee’s deceased wife comes to visit him as a ghost. Similarly, his long-lost son returns as some form of forest spirit. Before he dies he has a dream of a possible future. None of these occurrences are directly related to his Beekeeping (though he did create his apiary after his wife’s death because it was something she always wanted). He takes all such events in stride, though, which is nice.

It’s easier to judge Boonmee’s personality, and he seems like a nice guy. He appears to treat his workers well and he has less prejudice toward immigrants than others in his family. He considers his illness is a karmic retribution for having killed many communists in war, which I feel is a sign that he has prowess as a fighter (a plus in my reviews) and he has learned that violence isn’t particularly noble (also a plus in my reviews). Furthermore, he feels the karmic retribution is also for beetles he’s killed in protecting his farm, showing his respect for nature.

Before he dies, he tells his sister-in-law to take over his farm. He says “After I die, I will find a way to help you.” I kinda believe him.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

Worth noting: The film is based on a book about a man who claimed to recall his past lives while meditating. I don’t know if that Boonmee was a beekeeper at all, but either way this movie is inspired by that man, but is not about that man, so the film’s version of Boonmee still counts as a Fictional Beekeeper.

Beekeeper Review: Citizens of Earth’s Beekeeper

“She is part-support and part-offense, able to fit into most party combinations. With her bee companions, she is able to inflict status ailments as well as buff her allies!”

Citizens of Earth is a computer game in which the player is the Vice President of the World and all the NPCs are potential members of the VP’s team. Naturally, one of those potential teammates is a Beekeeper.

By the end of the game the Beekeeper has potentially travelled inside the Internet, ridden Ogopogo, fought monsters inside dreams, and defeated alien warlords in combat. That’d be an impressive resume for any adventurer and would stand out against most other Beekeepers I’ve reviewed, but here, in this game, all of that stuff is also true of every other character. In this game, that’s just the baseline amount of cool that any character can have. Is there anything to justify this Beekeeper highly apart from that stuff?

I’m not going to try and build suspense for this review. The answer is yes. Yes, this is a damned high-ranking Beekeeper. First of all, most Beekeepers in videogames are what I call Apiarists in Distress. Usually the Beekeepers are in trouble and they wait for the game’s protagonist to come get them out of it. And sure, this game’s Beekeeper does give the player a quest, but it isn’t because she’s in danger or needs his help. She’s just unwilling to leave her work early to help the VP unless he pitches in on keeping bees, which makes sense to me.

And, of course, the fighting prowess and supernatural powers that I look for are not lacking in the slightest. She can beat up a lot of monsters, with her bees stinging single enemies or groups of enemies and has a powerful thermal attack. But don’t think she just puts her bees at risk while she stays out of the action: she also has a very powerful attack called Final Sting that does a lot of damage to the target, but also reduces her hit points completely, in true bee style. Another videogame Beekeeper who spent a lot of time fighting was the one from Fist Puncher. She was a badass fighter and everything, but that was it. Her anger let her peak at badass. The Beekeeper in Citizens of Earth has other skills. She can have her bees defend her party, and she can heal her teammates, and she is able to offer a “Bee’s Eye View” to get a better look at the world around them. The fact that she has learned to use her bees and her knowledge for things other than just doing harm proves that she doesn’t let Beekeeper Rage rule over her. In fact, she’s downright happy most of the time.

What else? She wears a suit with bee colours. She speaks in incessant bee and honey puns. She’s written at least one book (“Lord of the Bees”). She lobbies for bee rights. Some of her bees can even speak. And it’s worth noting that when she joined the party, she was already a level 14, a starting point that only a couple other characters match and very few exceed. That means within the world she’s cool and tough even before she joins the VP’s adventure. She’s got it all.

Five Honeycombs out of Five! She’s a keeper.