Beekeeper Review: Eustacius Jericho

Professor Eustacius Jericho, the Scourge of Scoundrels, is not the first Beekeeper I’ve covered that comes from the Doctor Who franchise. That would be Goronwy Jones. But Jericho comes closer than his predecessor to becoming an actual Companion of the titular Doctor.

Jericho was a British soldier in the Second World War, and saw many terrible things. When he returned home, he threw himself wholly into academic life, seeking largely (consciously or otherwise) to be detached from the “real world” because of the darkness he’d seen. By the 1960s, he had some rapport with the people of his village, but avoided close attachments. And, because science often pairs well with the keeping of bees, it was in this era that seems to have taken it up. We don’t know how many hives he had, but we know he liked to use their honey in tea. “Nature’s own shock remedy,” he called it. I suspect he found it useful treating his trauma left from the War.

When supernatural events barged into Jericho’s life, he doubted them at first, but his scientific rationale quickly caught him up. Even in dangerous situations, he hoped to continue researching and learning. And when he wound up stranded in the early 1900s with the Doctor’s Companions, he and they went on a years-long, world-spanning quest to help prevent the end of the world. And when that crisis came to its climax, he allowed himself to be captured by an alien army as part of the plan to bring them down. The plan worked, though Jericho didn’t make it back alive. He was, at least, happy in the end that after his sedentary decades, he got to have a big adventure in his final years.

The only problem is that we never got to see Jericho doing any Beekeeping. We only get that one reference to his bees’ honey. Certainly he couldn’t have been doing it after being stranded in the past and started travelling the world on a mission. That means that the part of Jericho’s life that is full of adventure and the part where he keeps bees are decidedly separate. That’s not the ideal situation I look for here in these reviews, and sadly that brings his rating down from what it otherwise could have been:

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Stinger Apini

Stinger Apini, played by Sean Bean, is a character from the film Jupiter Ascending. Without getting into the macro-level details of the movie’s sci-fi setting, I can say this much about Stinger: he’s a genetically-engineered space cop who has been demoted and posted on Earth where he lives with his daughter and keeps bees. And it does seem that he’s good at the beekeeping, a trait that may well bred into him at a genetic level. His farm not only has multiple hives, but the home is covered in still more honeycombs, apparently placed wherever the bees felt like it. From what we see, the bees have a lot of leeway on this farm.

It is definitely worth noting that the bees we see on Stinger’s farm have a certain supernatural style. They can sense royalty in a person, for example, and respond to that person’s actions, to the extent that they’ll attack bad guys to help protect the film’s main character. Stinger says, “bees are genetically designed to recognize royalty… bees aren’t like humans, they don’t question or doubt. Bees don’t lie.” But Stinger says this is true of all bees, not just his. If all this is just a fact of bees in this sci-fi world, I can’t give Stinger any credit for it.

What I can give Stinger credit for is that he’s also an excellent fighter with a long history in space battles. He even had wings up until he acted nobly (taking credit for the actions of a soldier under his command) and was punished for it. While this did result in his disgrace, and his anger over it (and his desire to protect his daughter) led to him betraying his allies, he came back around to rejoin the protagonists. He wasn’t so overcome with rage that it became a problem in the long run.

He’s definitely a skilled combatant and a decent beekeeper. Even his name, Stinger Apini, is cool and thematically appropriate. But look, I have to be honest. My own opinion of the very concept of royalty is working against Stinger in this review. The idea that being “royal” is not made-up bullshit but is, in fact, an actual quantifiable physical attribute of a person and makes them “better” than other people and that bees can recognize and defer to it… none of this gets PDR’s approval.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Kenneth Oliverti

Today’s Beekeeper, Ken Oliverti, appeared in a movie called Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare, a horror thriller made back when concerns about killer bees were all the rage. Ken is a member of a family of quite successful Beekeepers, who have been working in the town of Blossom Meadows for generations. They have hives all over the valley with an estimated 25 million bees. Ken doesn’t need to wear a mask or gloves while handling the combs, saying “If you’re comfortable around bees, they’ll be comfortable around you.” The business is so successful that he has to travel the country (including to San Francisco, where he met his fiance Linda) and he’s taken a class about the dangers of killer bees, so you’d think he’d be exactly who you’d want around during a killer bee movie. There’s only one problem: he’s not the protagonist. And any apiarist who isn’t a protagonist is gonna have some problems!

Ken and Linda’s wedding is held outside on the land they own, not very far at all from some of their hives. The music is loud, which disturbs the hives. But, it turns out that several of the hives’ queens have been “Africanized” and the movie tells us that Africanized honey bees gets pissed off way more easily, so of course they immediately attack the wedding. Ken does try to wave get the guests inside, but the real heroic moment at this wedding is when the bride uses her veil as a mask and goes to rescue her soon-to-be step-son Joshua, who has been attacked. That woulda been a real proud moment for a Beekeeper like Ken, if he’d done it. But we’re never told that Linda is a Beekeeper. She’s marrying into the family, sure, but she’s not on the job yet (though I sure hope she got into the family business after the events of the movie).

Still, I could forgive Ken missing a chance to have a cool Beekeeper rescue if he was otherwise impressive. Sure, he’s part of a successful apiarist family, but he failed to even suspect that his own hives were turning on him. And then, when Blossom Meadows was Deadly Invaded by a Killer Bee Nightmare, Ken just took his family out of town. I get it, honestly I do. Josh had been hurt. Getting out of town makes sense. For an ordinary Beekeeper. But not the cool kind Beekeeper we look for around these parts.

Two Honeycombs out of Five. The rating of perfectly ordinary Beekeepers.

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.