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.

Canada Can (Try To) Keep Peace

This one is simple enough. To remind viewers that Canada was involved in the creation of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force, they show the force saving some hostages in the Congo.

This piece has something I always want to see in action movies, but very rarely do. The heroes take the bad guy alive. It feels like Hollywood can’t fathom an outcome that doesn’t involve death, but I think it is a good idea to tie the UN Peacekeepers’ reputation to a mindset where maybe killing isn’t always the answer. Also, Dextraze comes across as pretty cool. The fact he isn’t using a gun draws a comparison to Sam Steele, but of course Dextraze has two guys with big guns standing next to him, so the comparison isn’t perfect. It’s still cool, though.

Anyway, this commercial is fine. Maybe if it had been on when I was young some of the hostage-taker’s lines would be burned into my head, but as it stands, I have no sentimental attachment. I can give it Three out of Six Pieces of PDR’s Reviewing System Cake.

Beekeeper Review: Nailbiter’s Beekeeper

This unfortunately unnamed beekeeper comes from a comic called Nailbiter. I will be trying to avoid spoilers, in case people reading it stumble upon this site through a search engine or whatever, but here’s what you need to know: there is a small town called Buckaroo that has produced a higher number of serial killers than any other place, and certainly more than would be expected from such a small place. Obviously, people get curious.

One of the protagonists of the book is an FBI agent whose investigation leads today’s beekeeper. Actually, he first meets the beekeeper’s grandson Roger, who runs the honey farm in his grandfather’s stead. Gramps is too busy being contained in the basement, because Roger seems to think he would be dangerous to the world at large. From what we see, Gramps mostly spends his time just dissecting bees.

Whether the cause of the serial killers is supernatural is part of the comic’s mystery, but as in so many cases, I am here to argue that the beekeeper, at least, absolutely has supernatural powers. Let’s get to it. First of all, there is near constant rain in Buckaroo, and the bees don’t mind at all. That’s cool. That’s a start. Is he immune to bee stings? Not really. He says he is “for some reason invulnerable to their many stings. It hurts and I blister, but I… do not die.” I mean, that’s something, but not enough to really build my case upon. He makes a comment that suggests he could smell bee pheromones, which is better. But perhaps the biggest sign of preternatural power is actually present in his biggest downfall: the Beekeeper Rage.

When he flips out on the investigator, his bees attack for him, which suggests a connection. He specifically says that he delights in watching his bees attack the intruder, and he barely notices that his grandson is collateral damage in that attack. There is no doubt that this guy suffers from the Rage. But in spite of that, he is not one of the town’s serial killers. He is in on the secrets of the town (and may have even been involved long ago), but instead of givin’ in to the killin’, he notes that he has only killed once, when he was young and stupid. What’s more, he has used his time as a crazy basement person studying bees because he believes he can learn from them to save the town and improve humanity. It is almost as if he saw the evil the world could offer and directed his Rage toward trying to change it. That’d be a good thing if he were better at it, but at least he tried. At least he resisted that allure of serial killing.

Anyway, neither he nor his grandson survive the story.

3 Honeycombs out of Five.
For posterity, Roger, who is a more normal beekeeper would rate a 2. It is mentioned that honey farming used to be a big industry in Buckaroo until about twenty years before the story. If that is when Roger took over, it’s a sign that he’s not supernatural enough to have kept things going.

Beekeeper Review: Beekeeper Smurf

I don’t know why I didn’t think to look into the Smurfs franchise for a beekeeper sooner. I mean, they have Smurfs for everything. And sure enough, this guy exists:

He exists, but just barely. Beekeeper Smurf appears only in a video game* called the Smurfs Village Game, which means that even the profile on the Smurfs wiki considers him non-canon. As such, there’s not much information. Here’s what I do know:

Beekeeper Smurf is already a Smurf, and lives in a world full of magic and adventure. But sadly, we have no proof that he has ever contributed to the magic or adventure in that world. He appears to just be a mostly decorative feature in the game, and mostly a non-entity in the village. The only very interesting thing about him is that his bees seem to be very small, judging by the size of his hives compared to his three-apples-tall frame. Even the two bees we see hanging around him seem too large for those hives, so either it’s tiny bees or he just has a handful of extremely efficient ones. That’s all we have. He’s got jars of honey, though, so whatever the case, it works for him.

2 Honeycombs out of Five.

*Full Disclosure: I didn’t bother the play this game. That sounds like I’m not doing my due diligence as the world’s foremost Fictional Beekeeper Reviewer, but I say the fact I spent half an hour researching this at all is a sign of my credentials.

Beekeeper Review: Sheldon Quick

“There is more to life than this crazy, sick-headed preoccupation with honey, honey, honey, everything for honey—and death to anybody who can’t make honey!”

Listen: Kurt Vonnegut is probably my favorite author. I don’t like choosing favorites, but if I had to, he’s the one I’d pick. So when I learned this week that a previously unpublished Vonnegut Story was just put online, I was very happy. When I learned it was about a beekeeper… Well, that’s a thrill I will probably never see replicated.

Vonnegut Beekeeper! This is a top-priority review!

Now, as the world’s foremost reviewer of fictional beekeepers, I will remain objective here. This, as always, is a review of the beekeeper, not the work in which the beekeeper appears. The beekeeper will be judged on their beekeeping abilities, any supernatural or fighting abilities they have, and their ability to overcome Beekeeper Rage.

Sheldon Quick is our beekeeper here. Around fifty years old, he spends most of his time in the Millennium Club, a club for wealthy gentlemen. But, as the fortune left to him by his father is dwindling, very soon his club membership will end. But for a year or so he has been experimenting on bees with the intent to start a business that will recoup his wealth, and also save an oppressed group: male honeybees.

Quick plans to get rich by using drones, who would have otherwise been killed by their hives after the mating season is done, to send messages, carrier pigeon-style. He is not deterred by the fact that vastly superior communication systems exist. The sympathy he feels for the poor drones is so strong that he feels that alone is reason enough for the venture, which he describes as the “greatest thing in humanitarianism since the New Testament.” He creates a males-only hive (a “Bee Millenium Club”) where the drones get to live without the threat from the females. Like a pigeon returning home, the drones will always return to their club, so they work as couriers of tiny little messages. I mean, the plan fails of course (the drones happen to see a queen fly by and that’s the end of that), but Quick did succeed in setting up the all-male hive.

Quick has some sexist views, that’s for sure. He hides in the Millennium Club because women aren’t allowed in, and he fixates on occasions in nature where females kill males (in addition to the honeybee drones, he mentions praying mantises and tarantulas, as examples). It’s probable that he went through some bad experiences and came through with a lot of hatred. But he is, at least, trying to focus his Rage on a mission that is nice. As he says to the reporters who witness his failure “Report me as a fool, if you must … But report me as a fool with one of the kinder, grander dreams of our time.”

Enough summary. Time for review. Is he a good beekeeper? Well, he manages to run ten hives successfully enough to build up his stock of drones. He has no apparent preternatural connection to most of the bees (they sting him, but he has nothing but contempt for the females anyway), but he gets along with the drones. His experimentation is the sort of thing I like to see fictional beekeepers try (there should always be an element of a mad scientist to a beekeeper). He doesn’t seem like much of a fighter (though he is described as “very tall” so he has a physicality that might allow for physical strength), and though he comes from wealth it is not a lineage of ancient beekeepers or anything great like that. Apart from the experimentation, the most impressive thing about Quick is that he is trying to focus his Rage somewhere constructive.

Three Honeycombs out of Five. He’s a broken man, and his dumb idea fails, but he is a decent beekeeper and he wants to do what he thinks is right. And I feel bad for him.