Beekeeper Review: Goronwy

“Never underestimate the powers of nature”

Today’s Beekeeper comes from an old-school episode of Doctor Who called Delta and the Bannermen. Goronwy Jones (using the surname that only appeared in the script because I like to be thorough) is a Welsh Beekeeper who gets caught up in one of the Doctor’s wacky adventures and doesn’t bat an eye. That’s the main thing about Goronwy: he is not surprised by much. In this story a time-travelling alien asks Goronwy to help protect some other aliens from an army of still more aliens. During none of this does Goronwy question anything, he just happily lends his home and beekeeping supplies to the cause. During the tense confrontation, Goronwy takes the time to explain beekeeping stuff to anyone who will listen and can be seen casually reading a book. The only explanation is that Goronwy has seen weirder stuff before.

Am I suggesting that Goronwy may even know the Doctor before this in some time-travel sense? Am I suggesting that he may even have been, in his youth, a companion to some version of the Doctor that we have not yet seen? Am I suggesting that he may be the most important character to ever appear in Doctor Who and even the Doctor doesn’t know it yet? Of course I am suggesting all of that. That’s what these Beekeeper Reviews are about, aren’t they? But actually, the episodes do make the case that Goronwy has a history, if not with the Doctor, with weirdness at least. When some Americans looking for a fallen satellite ask if he’s seen anything strange fall from the sky, Goronwy says “I’ve seen many things fall out of the sky, but nothing that could be described as weird” and he talks of strange lights (presumably UFOs) that he’s seen around the area. And does his own history with the bees seem supernatural? Well, it’s certainly mysterious that he can’t even say how long he’s been doing the job (because of time travel or old-person memory? Who can say?) and he suggests that he can talk to his bees, saying “They know everything that happens.” Even without my bias, we’ve got hints that this guy is far from an “ordinary” beekeeper.

At the end of the story, Goronwy gives the Doctor some honey and, as the Doctor furtively slips away from the Americans in the Tardis, Goronwy gives the camera a knowing wink. There’s definitely something up with this guy, everyone.

Three Honeycombs out of Five.

Terry Fox: Unstoppable Canadian Cyborg?

This particular Heritage Piece is not from my childhood. It was not drilled into my brain and I can’t quote from it. Those, I admit, are the things that I like about these things. Still, I obviously knew who Terry Fox was. Looking back, I’m somewhat surprised their wasn’t an ad about him back in those days. Why did it take so long, I wonder? Ah well, he has one now. It’s a straightforward piece, narrated by Terry at first, then closing with a narrator filling in the blanks. I don’t even really have much to say about it. (Note: This is not a sign that I am against cancer research. Those rumours are unfounded as I have said at my many press conferences on the subject.)

True PDR Fact: Walking across Canada is something I’d actually enjoy doing. Not even for a cause, necessarily. I just think that, if the weather was nice and I wasn’t broke and I had the time, I’d be okay with doing that. It’s a dream that will never come to fruition. Terry Fox, on the other hand, did his thing under much worse circumstances and for much better reasons. I don’t think this Heritage Commercial, had it been around in my youth, would have been easily memorized, but I do think it’s a perfectly good way of memorializing Fox and that’s what it is actually supposed to do, so I’m going to give it Three out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake. It does its job.

I fully admit that my claim that Terry Fox is a “cyborg” will likely be argued by some. Fair enough, but it’s a claim I first made when Canada put him on money and I wanted to say Canada was the first country to have a cyborg on its money. You can take that away from us, sure, but it would make us feel bad. Meanwhile, if you want to argue that Terry Fox was famously not “unstoppable” okay, but in that case it should make you feel bad.

Beekeeper Review: H. P. Lovecraft’s Beekeeper

“On a verdant slope of Mount Maenalus, in Arcadia, there stands an olive grove about the ruins of a villa. Close by is a tomb, once beautiful with the sublimest sculptures, but now fallen into as great decay as the house. At one end of that tomb, its curious roots displacing the time-stained blocks of Pentelic marble, grows an unnaturally large olive tree of oddly repellent shape; so like to some grotesque man, or death-distorted body of a man, that the country folk fear to pass it at night when the moon shines faintly through the crooked boughs. Mount Maenalus is a chosen haunt of dreaded Pan, whose queer companions are many, and simple swains believe that the tree must have some hideous kinship to these weird Panisci; but an old bee-keeper who lives in the neighbouring cottage told me a different story.”

Today I am reviewing a beekeeper from the works of H. P. Lovecraft. I expect that even the most devoted fans of Lovecraft would barely remember this character, though, given that he is alluded to but twice in a minor Lovecraft story, “The Tree“. He doesn’t even do anything in the story. Basically, this story is narrated by some chump. That chump tells a story that was related to him by a beekeeper. Thus, the beekeeper is neither the narrator, nor is he actually a part of the story of the tree.

What do we know about this guy? Not much. He’s Greek. He’s old. And he knows this story. He automatically gets Two Honeycombs for being a good beekeeper (one doesn’t get to be an old beekeeper if one is not good at it, after all), but I could infer more. Maybe this beekeeper actually knows a lot more than this one story. Perhaps he knows all manner of secrets of the Lovecraftian universe and all its monsters and such. It seems entirely likely that this beekeeper is a major force in protecting humanity. Nobody out there can prove me wrong! But, unfortunately, this story also can not prove me right.

Two Honeycombs out of Five.

Beekeeper Review: Astro City’s Beekeeper

The world of Astro City is rife with superheroes and villains, so it is no surprise that there is one who called himself “The Beekeeper”. As ever, the superhero universe Beekeepers don’t get too creative with their names.

This Beekeeper was active in the 60s as a super-criminal. Using a weapon called a hive-scepter, he was able to control bees to do his bidding, and was probably able to fly given those big wings on his back. We don’t know how successful he was as a criminal, but we do know he ended up getting caught and spent time in prison. After that, he gave up the life of crime, became an entomology professor, and lived a normal life until he was in his eighties. At some point, he seems to have sold one of his hive-scepters, which was a mistake, because someone used it to frame him for some crimes. When the police came to investigate, the octogenarian reacted poorly and got back into costume and fought back. It’s sad that it happened, but it does say something about his fighting skills that it took a lot of police to bring him in, even in his advanced age.

Astro City’s Beekeeper has only had about three pages of screen time. Sure, he gets to boss around bees and fly, but we don’t know what else he’s got. Did he have a whole beehive-themed lair? He could have. We just don’t know. We don’t even know if he actually kept bees for non-crime purposes. The fact he ended up teaching suggests that he knows about them, though. I always dock a point for beekeepers who turn to evil, it’s a sign that they can’t contain their Beekeeper Rage, but it is a shame that I have to do it for this guy. He stayed on the straight and narrow for decades between his initial crime spree and when he was framed. But still, he has to lose that point for villainy.

3 Honeycombs out of Five. Given Astro City’s nature, we could learn more someday. I don’t expect it, but I can dream.

Beekeeper Review: Dr. Lorenz

“You see, my friends, through the centuries, man has sought to master the bee. And although she has shared with him most generously her produce, the bee went about her daily toils obeying not the commands of man, but the laws of her own civilization and culture.”

In 1955, an episode Science Fiction Theatre titled “The Strange Doctor Lorenz” introduce a strange doctor, named Lorenz. Dr. Lorenz is a beekeeper.

Dr. Lorenz (portrayed by Edmund Gwenn) is an elderly chemist who, with an assistant named George, lives in a house in a swamp near some small town called Dexter. There, in addition to farming honey, he conducts experiments with the help of his bees. The primary invention that benefits Lorenz’s work is a method for communicating with bees via “controlled use of artificial ultra-violet rays” that has allowed him to completely understand the bees’ language. Lorenz has shown nothing but respect for the bees, and they in turn like him and are happy to help him out.

Beyond that his experiments have been more along lines that one would actually expect from a chemist. He is working on a curative form of royal jelly which can heal even the most serious of wounds. While Lorenz is not a medical doctor, the townsfolk around the swamp apparently are confused by his “doctor” title and often summon him for aid in times of medical emergency. Lorenz is happy to help, but will only use his special jelly in cases of life or death. But why doesn’t he use it to heal everyone? Why doesn’t he go public with his discoveries? Well, the tragedy here is that the jelly is still not perfected. Its healing effects are only temporary, and continued use of the jelly makes the subject deadly allergic to bees, a single sting being enough to instantly kill them. Until this can be improved upon, Lorenz will only treat those who would be otherwise doomed, and whom he can keep a watch on. (Lorenz himself would seem to be at risk, but the bees would never have any reason to sting him.)

What else? Lorenz is not a fighter, but when a man breaks into his home and tries to steal from him, he does release the bees, which is an accepted beekeeper combat technique of course. Furthermore, he is a quirky fellow and, for some reason, he goes to bed at 8:30 on the dot every night, even if he has to leave a conversation unfinished to do it. We’re never given a reason for that, so I could easily claim this routine is his way of keeping his Beekeeper Rage from flaring up. It is, if nothing else, impressive how he can apparently tell the time without the need for a clock.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.

Eventually, knowing that he is getting too old to see his research to the end, so he leaves his work to a doctor named Fred Garner. Let’s hope that Fred is able to perfect the curative jelly one day.