I have reviewed twenty-five Beekeepers since I started that project and I have just done an average score for them. So far, they average a mere 2.52 out of 5. Considering I started the Beekeeper Review project as a way of proving how awesome fictional beekeepers are, it is clear to me now that I have not done a good enough job. Gonna have to find some real winners from this point onward.
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.
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 money, 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.
“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.
Nick Carter is a detective who has appeared in all sorts of media since his creation in 1886, starting with novels and going into radio shows and movies and so on. He’s not as successful a detective as the big names in the field, your Sherlocks and Marples and Chans, but he’s done well for himself. But is Nick Carter a Beekeeper? No, Nick Carter is not a Beekeeper. So let’s stop talking about Nick Carter.
In three movies in the 1940s, Carter had an unlikely sidekick. He was Bartholomew the Bee-Man. As far as I can discern, he has only appeared alongside Nick in these movies, which is a damned shame, but it makes it easier for my purposes, given that watching three movies is much easier than tracking a character through a century of miscellaneous stories in multiple mediums. Portrayed by Donald Meek, Bartholomew is the best thing about these films, even without my bias toward Beekeepers.
In the first of the trilogy, “Nick Carter, Master Detective”, we meet Batholomew on his bee farm. It just so happens that Nick Carter moves into an inn next door and Bartholomew, being an avid fan of detectives, recognizes him right away. He takes it as fate that Carter wound up there and insists that they become partners. Nick Carter is annoyed with this funny little man, but there is no shaking the beekeeper. Even when Carter seems to successfully ditch him for the movie’s climax, Bartholomew actually just goes to get help from the authorities. In the following movies, “Sky Murder” and “Phantom Raiders”, Nick softens to the guy, nicknaming him “Beeswax” and, though still finding him odd, is more willing to accept his help as he often proves his worth.
So what are his Beekeeping skills like? Well, he’s quick to leave his business to do detective work. When Carter is trying to get rid of him in the first film, he insists that Bartholomew can’t leave his bees. “Could and would, sir. Can and will,” Bartholomew replies. It seems harsh at first. But we must bear in mind a few facts: He has an assistant. His presence on the honey farm is not required at all times. Also, he is shown to still work on the farm between detective cases in the later films. And finally, Bartholomew lists his priorities as “Carter first, and then the bees, but don’t worry, the choicest ones are here.” And indeed Bartholomew does have bees on his person, in his pockets and under his hat, at all times. In no way is his detective side-job an abandonment of his bees. And for the record, his assistant has a traditional beekeeping costume (Bartholomew doesn’t seem to need one) and he is shown using a smoker and spraying pesticides to stop “little bugs” so the ordinary aspects of the job are not beyond him.
But what of the more supernatural abilities and fighting prowess on which I am really rating these Beekeepers? Well, as I said he carries his favorite bees around and they don’t sting him or anything. In fact, he finds all sorts of uses for them. He can flick them at people so they cause pain, he can put them under locked doors if someone is hiding on the other side, or he can even just use them to signal Carter. It’s not quite the same as actually mentally controlling the bees, but it is sort of impressive. As for his fighting prowess, well, for a character who is, let’s face it, comic relief, he acquits himself well. His hand-to-hand technique may be more of the “ducking out of the way so one enemy accidentally punches the other” variety, but it works. And he has no fear of anyone larger than him or of being outnumbered or, really, of anything (His own words: “The Bartholomew courage never falters”). He’s stealthy when he needs to be, but that’s to gain an advantage, not because he is afraid of getting into a scrap.
Furthermore, as I’ve mentioned before, I consider mystery solving just as “badass” as fighting and Bartholomew is all about it. Introducing himself to Nick he says in the third person, “What is it that sets Bartholomew apart from all the rest? Instinct? No. Intuition? Hardly? An extra little kink in the brain perhaps?” Perhaps! Basically, the thing is, Bartholomew loves brain-work. In the latter movies, Bartholomew is more devoted to the cases than Carter is (especially in “Phantom Raiders” where Nick is really just trying to get laid and Bartholomew periodically has to steer him back to doing his job). Simply put: Bartholomew is a detective because he enjoys catching criminals. And I think that’s cool.
Three out of Four. Bartholomew himself said “I’m a Bee Man, a G-Man, and a he-man” and I think he lives up to all three ideals well.