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.

Beekeeper Reviews: The Littlest Hobo’s Beekeeper

Today’s beekeeper appears in the Littlest Hobo episode called “Dragonslayer”. He doesn’t have a major role, the story is actually about some children that the protagonist doggie helps through some dangerous woods, but he the episode’s climax still focuses on the beekeeper.

The beekeeper is not given any name, but he has a cool black beekeeping outfit and carries a big stick. His land, which the kids wander through, seems to be rigged full of traps that he probably set (there are many dangerous animals in his woods too). Those are all pluses for a beekeeper’s score. Also, when he comes across a bear breaking into his hives, his instinct is to attack it.

Granted, the bear beats him up and he has to be rescued by the star of the show, but still. He charged a bear. That’s pretty cool. If his loss to he bear was the only strike against him, that’d be a pretty good beekeeper score. Sadly, another concern is the scope of his apiary operations. It is probably a result of the show’s Canadian Television budget, but within the narrative, those boxes we see the bear attacking at the extent of this beekeeper’s honey farm. In spite of all the land he seems to own, that’s all he’s got.

It is also worth noting: when one of the kids asks why he didn’t just shoot the bear, the beekeeper says “No crime in a bear wanting honey, even if it is the best wild honey in the country.” There’s so much to unpack there. He holds no grudge against the bear, so he’s doing well for the Beekeeper Rage. But he also calls it “wild honey” which isn’t what a beekeeper’s stock would be. I don’t know what to make of that.

I wish I could go higher, but with the evidence we have there just isn’t enough to justify a higher score.

Beekeeper Reviews: Bee Movie’s Beekeepers

It can’t be overstated: This movie depicts a universe in which bees are uncannily human. They speak English, they have technology and family units, they have furniture and clothes, they even have their own version of Larry King. But the beekeepers in the movie are inhumane. One benefit of the doubt can be given to the beekeepers: The bees have a policy that, until the events of the movie, they don’t speak to humans, but even so, these beekeepers see the bees who have chairs and paintings and still call bees “pinheads”? Not very observant.

Unlike my ideal beekeepers, these guys aren’t protecting their bees. They are exploiting them. One of them says specifically that “we throw it in some jars, slap a label on it, and it’s pretty much pure profit.” From the sounds of it, they don’t spend any money on taking care of the bees. The hives they make for their bees are represented as unfurnished, minuscule apartments with propaganda pictures of their queen about. The beekeepers have the typical technology, but even that is twisted to jerk-styles. When describing his smoker, one beekeepers says “Ninety puffs a minute, semi-automatic,” which sounds impressive until he adds “Twice the nicotine, all the tar!” These guys are actually addicting the human-like bees to the smoke to keep them exploitable. This “They make the honey, and we make the money” style is pretty abhorrent. Real beekeepers give something back. Also, these guys never portray any fighting or supernatural abilities. They don’t amount to much.

In a way, the real beekeepers in this movie are the bees themselves. But I don’t think that counts.

Beekeeper Review: Elizabeth Boyd and Bill Chalmers

“Between two beekeepers there can be no strife. Not even a tepid hostility can mar their perfect communion.
The petty enmities which life raises to be barriers between man and man and between man and woman vanish once it is revealed to them that they are linked by this great bond. Envy, malice, hatred, and all uncharitableness disappear, and they look into each other’s eyes and say ‘My brother!”

Uneasy Money is a novel by P. G. Wodehouse and, like most of his works, it is a farcical comedy. Unlike too many of his (and everyone’s) works, this is a story about beekeepers. The fact that they are beekeepers is not particularly relevant to the plot, so I’d hoped I could go into detail without giving much away, in case anyone wanted to check out Wodehouse (which they ought) and decided to do it through a work not related to his more well-known franchises. But I do kind of need to spoil a bit here. There are two beekeepers in this book and they fall in love. I admit that’s a pretty big spoiler, but I assure you there are jokes and misunderstandings that will get a reader through the story even knowing the ending.

Elizabeth Boyd is an American beekeeper, but she isn’t making much money at it. “She had not prospered greatly. With considerable trouble she contrived to pay her way, and that was all.” On top of running her bee farm in Brookport, Long Island, she also has to take care of her loser brother Nutty. She’s a hard working, nice young woman.

William FitzWilliam Delamere Chalmers is an English lord (albeit one of the poorest of them) who enjoys beekeeping. He worked for a year on a bee farm until his lack of money and the response of his peers. “The general impression seemed to be that I should be foolish to try anything so speculative as beekeeping, so it fell through. Some very decent old boys got me another job.” Luckily, by the end of the book, Bill and Elizabeth are off to be wed and buy a big farm of their own. He’s a particularly nice guy, if a bit dim.

How do they rate as beekeepers? Well, Elizabeth is the only one employed as such during the events of the novel, and she admits her business just barely scrapes by. It isn’t for lack of trying, though. Any success she has at the job comes from natural aptitude, for she “loved bees, but she was not an expert on them” and she has “reached a stage of intimacy with her bees which rendered a veil a superfluous precaution.” Bill may not keep bees during the story, but at the very least he has a year of experience and no fear of the insects. He is capable of the job. And what of fighting? Well, it isn’t the kind of story where they get to do much fighting, but Bill is often described as a physically fit and even imposing figure. It isn’t his nature, but I suspect that if he had to fight, he’d do alright. Also of note: on one occasion, when wanting to inflict some minor pain to Bill, Elizabeth pokes him with a pin, which is on brand as a stinger. Maybe she’d do more with that motif in a fight. Any supernatural powers? Nothing significant, though there is one moment when Elizabeth is trying to hide something from a snooping reporter and one of her bees “stung him at the psychological moment” which could be coincidence, but also could be a bee knowingly doing its keeper’s bidding.

Beekeeper Rage? Well, Elizabeth at one point notes how quickly she goes from being unhappy that her brother may come into some money he will surely misuse, to “boil[ing] with rage” when he doesn’t get it. She knows it is inconsistent, but the rage is still there. But also “it was a trait in her character which she had often lamented, that she could not succeed in keeping angry with anyone for more than a few minutes on end.” So there isn’t too much Rage to be had.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.