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.

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.

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 Review: Spidey Super Stories’s Beekeeper

Spidey Super Stories was a segment on a television show called the Electric Company that featured live-action Spider-Man stuff. If you want, you can see the appearance of the Beekeeper on the Youtube. To summarize: there is a villain named the Queen Bee who wants to conquer the world. Spider-Man is opposing her. One of her henchmen is: The Beekeeper. Spider-Man beats the Beekeeper very easily.

He seems like a relatively ordinary guy. Queen Bee and her other henchmen are some kind of half-bee people, and one of the bees in Queen Bee’s hive is named Fang and is said to be “poison” (I assume they mean “venomous”). But the Beekeeper is just a normal human, it seems. And henching? I mean, not to disparage henchmen, but that is definitely a step down from being a regular beekeeper.

Issue #14 of the Spidey Super Stories comic adapts this story, and it isn’t much different. Queen Bee does once refer to him as “the Royal Beekeeper”, but that ain’t what it says on his shirt, so it surely doesn’t count.

One Honeycombs out of Five. Man. I gotta find some more badass beekeepers sometime soon.

Beekeeper Review: Lord Marmaduke Ffogg

Lord Marmaduke Ffogg is a minor Batman villain who is also a beekeeper. Sounds like a pretty good combination, but unfortunately Ffogg is a bit of a letdown. You see, rather than using beekeeping as the theme of his crimes, Ffogg’s theme is fog. He does, admittedly, make good use of that theme. He lives in a town called “Fogshire” and he’s got a Pipe of Fog that billows forth enough fog to cover his crimes. He’s got exploding pellets than can create a fog that paralyzes people. He’s got a “mind fogging” machine that can mess with people’s minds. Overall, he’s pretty on brand, it’s just not the brand that would get him points in a Beekeeper Review.

And, as Batman villains go, he’s got a sweet set-up. He’s not only got his own henchmen, but his sister and daughter are in on his crimes and use the girls at the “posh girls finishing school” they run as an additional set of henchmen. That’s two henchgroups in this one criminal setup. Pretty good deal.

But Ffogg is a beekeeper as well. Though it seems to be a mere hobby for him. He keeps only a single hive, though it is full of African Death Bees (“One sting and you’re finished”). That’s an impressively badass-sounding type of bee, but the closest he gets to using beekeeping as a part his life of crime is to have his hive set up is a trap for those who might be snooping around his estate. When he showed up in the comics based on the show his bees were not even mentioned (also, there he was called “Professor Ffogg”, so perhaps he lost his Lordship).

I have some theories about Ffogg. He’s from “one of the most aristocratic families in the land” and I feel that this was probably a family with some more respectable beekeepers before Marmaduke came along. Devices like the fog pellets and the fog pipe may have been adapted from technology they used for smoke. That theory will never likely be confirmed either way, but if it were true it means that Ffogg is even more disappointing. Sorry, Marmaduke, but you’re not what we’re looking for.

One Honeycomb out of Five.