Morphs [Oak Catalog #]
- Combee [#415]
- Vespiquen [#416]
Physical DescriptionOne Combee is comprised of three individuals, every one a yellow sphere with a simple mouth and a pair of simple eyes, bound within one hexagon of a chitinous, roughly triangular arrangement of three yellow honeycombs with orange highlights. The top two creatures each have a single antennae and wing, which they use to fly over the fields in search of nectar. The lower creature has a developed thorax, striped yellow and black, which projects from the rear of the honeycomb. Female Combee also sport a triangular red patch on the forehead of the lower face, though they are significantly outnumbered by their unmarked male counterparts. There is a rare strain of Combee whose chitin is not the typical yellow, but an orange-red color; these are prized by collectors, but their distinction is only aesthetic. Vespiquen, the evolved form of a female Combee, is rarely seen in the wild, only emerging if it is banished from the hive or the hive itself is threatened. The creature's orange head is encased in a chitinous two pronged yellow crest, each prong capped with a thick black stripe. A pair of yellow mandibles are located directly under angry red eyes, and a red gem is embedded in their forehead. The yellow thorax is almost spherical, sporting two small pairs of translucent wings and an orange circle on either side that connect to a pair of insectile arms; each arm ends in two short, sharp orange claws. A single black stripe runs down the back of the thorax and wraps around a tiny waist that flares out into six large, hollow honeycomb like structures, arranged like a ballgown around a seventh honeycomb in which dangles the Vespiquen's pale yellow abdomen; One final, large black stripe encircles the gown-like structure. The same trait that makes rare Combee have orange-red chitin can be found in the Vespiquen morph, but it is near impossible to find red Vespiquen in the wild; most examples are evolved from captured Combee with the trait.
Notable Biology and Social StructureCombee individuals actually do each have a very underdeveloped set of actual limbs, but these "arms" are almost vestigial and remain within the honeycombs of each Combee. They are used to facilitate communication between the three individuals, with the upper Combee tapping out directions of interest and the lower tapping out constant commands. The upper faces of a Combee have highly developed antennae and eyes, being able to see partway into the infrared and ultraviolet spectrums respectively; the lower Combee uses their guidance to find flowering plants and plant-type pokemon, from which it will consume nectar and gather pollen. Nectar is rapidly transformed into honey and stored in an internal bladder, while the pollen is gathered up around the antennae; much of the pollen falls away during the Combee's flight back, however, facilitating pollenization and making the Combee quite important to the local ecology. The Combee will store their gathered honey and pollen in the honeycomb cells of their dead comrades; while most of it will be eaten at a later date, the Vespiquen uses some of the honey and pollen as ingredients in creating poisons and antidotes in a form of natural alchemy. Both Vespiquen and Combee have numerous pheromone glands along their thorax, which they use to communicate and coordinate with other members of their hive. Every Vespiquen has an individual hive scent, shared by Combee in the same hive in order to keep track of each other, and Combee will emit this scent constantly whenever they fly away from their hive. If a Combee comes into physical contact with another hive's Vespiquen, they will change their hive scent to match, and Combee bred without a Vespiquen have no hive scent. Combee who have found a viable flower patch will also release an "interest" scent, returning to the hive and communicating the location of the patch with an intricate series of aerial rotations. Vespiquen also use their scent glands to direct the hive, emitting a sending scent every morning to have them fly away and a gather scent every evening to summon her servants back. Their mixture of pollen and honey gives them more control over their specific glands, and they can direct Combee in their hive with direct and tactical instructions. The honeycomb structure of the Combee is used in almost all their social interactions. Combee at night will interlock their honeycombs, forming a wall of warmth around the hive area, while during the day they will often rotate their bodies in specific patterns to communicate directions to other Combee. If they encounter a dead Combee, or a Combee with a different hive scent, they will gather their fellows to clamp around it and return it to their hive; dead Combee are consumed by the Vespiquen, while live ones are converted into the hive. The Vespiquen's "dress" also houses a number of Combee eggs, laid by the queen and gathered within to develop in a safe, warm environment. Interestingly, the Vespiquen lays an equal amount of male and female eggs, but will release pheromones that "prehatch" most of the female eggs in her dress, creating a creature resembling black and yellow sphere with wings; it is completely obedient, infertile, and starves to death in a week due to its lack of digestive system, whereupon the Vespiquen eats it in what is assumed to be a form of population control. When a Combee evolves to a Vespiquen, they generally return to their current hive and spend a few weeks watching the current Vespiquen. During this time they experiment with their new neurology, attempting to coordinate what was once three brains and is now one, as well as learning how to operate their new pheromone glands. The elder Vespiquen will generally treat the newcomer as both an apprentice and a secondary Combee factory; a single hive can house between six and twenty apprentices at a time. However, once the younger Vespiquen starts to generate their own hive scent, the conflict between confused Combee forces the elder Vespiquen to order her banishment; the apprentice either leaves with a retinue of Combee or attempts to duel the elder to the death for control of the hive. Both cases are extremely dangerous for the apprentice; swarming Combee are often picked off by predators until the Vespiquen is alone, and their aggressive tendencies make them high priority targets for wild pokemon. Dueling Vespiquen not only have to contend with the elder's experience, but the probability that after they win they will have to fend off duels from their sisters, and it is not uncommon for entire hives to be thrown into miniature civil wars when an elder dies.
HabitatCombee thrive in temperate environments where there are plenty of flowering plants, and they will fly across a huge range of land during the day. The Vespiquen will locate some sort of trees or caverns to build a hive for the Combee to retreat to every night. The oldest hives exist in the Sinnoh region, with the Combee tending to ancient trees and keeping them alive in order to store their honey; there are about 21 of these honey trees, all of which are common sources for Trainers to capture Combee, but it is considered borderline suicidal to attack the tree itself. A number of Combee have also migrated south to the Johto region, although their hives are far less developed and harder to locate, and a few enterprising trainers have begun trading Combee to people living in the Johto region, in hopes of establishing a population there. There are also a couple of hives in Unova and Kalos. The Kalos hive was deliberately imported to help pollinate Route 4's carefully crafted hedge maze, and for the most part remains docile and harmless to humans. The Unova strain, however, apparently stowed away on some sort of trade ship and is particularly aggressive; the Combee range through Lostlorn forest and as far north as Route Twelve, a number of them Hustling against other pokemon, while the Unnerving Vespiquen elder has holed up in a secret grotto and, unusually, sends her apprentices out to deal with potentially threatening pokemon. It is assumed this mutant strain is located primarily in the Unova region, but there are trainers deliberately capturing and breeding these Combee and spreading them worldwide.
DietCombee are entirely nectervorous, consuming the sugary sweet liked of flowering plants and converting it into honey. Notably, the upper Combee faces require honey to consume, as only the lower is capable of processing raw nectar, and a large part of Combee life is simply feeding each other's upper heads. Trainers are advised to give a Combee a wide veriety of honey. While Vespiquen also consume honey from their hive, they are for the most part carnivorious and highly cannibalistic on top of that. They rarely kill their own meals, instead waiting for Combee to drop dead and consuming their tiny corpses, but they will kill small pests that make it into the hive and store them for later consumption. Vespiquen will also eat each other, but only after the food source has been killed in a hive duel; there is some ceremony to this, as the winner will eat the loser's abdomen and (if the loser was the Elder) their head, while the other queens will share the thorax. The honeycomb dress is added to the winner's collection and used as their alchemy equipment; elders will also mount the heads of their challengers around their roosts. Vespiquen in captivity require only small meat snacks, but will demand them frequently and attack a trainer that starves them for too long.
HazardsIndividual Combee are all but harmless, and even a swarm is generally not that dangerous without a Vespiquen directing it. They may bite an attacker, and a few humans are actually allergic to Combee bites, but can be easily subdued and will not come to each other's rescue unless ordered to by a Vespiquen. The Unova strain of Combee is far more aggressive, however, and has been almost demonized in the region. Still, even they will not attack what they do not see as a threat. Vespiquen, on the other hand, are extremely dangerous when provoked. Not only will they attack with claws and mandibles, they will also Pressure their foes into tiring quickly. Their alchemical mixtures can poison other pokemon with ease, and they can even consume prehatched Combee for a quick heal. The most obvious threat, however, is simply that Vespiquen are never alone; the prehatched and normally hatched Combee of their hive, as well as any apprentices a Vespiquen might have, will follow the Vespiquen's orders with dangerous precision and coordination, overwhelming any attacker. For the most part, Vespiquen will not attack unless their hive or themselves are assaulted; the elder Vespiquen in Unova does send her apprentices roving through Lostlorn forest, however, and they will attack trainers that they encounter. Captured and captivity-bred Combee do not require too much care beyond ensuring a steady diet of honey or nectar. However, care must be taken with female Combee to ensure that they recognize the trainer as their Elder; this is easily accomplished by stroking the abdomen while wearing a particular perfume. Once the Combee evolves into a Vespiquen, it will consider the rest of the team to be its hive, but will treat them in a manner similar to how the trainer does; a misbehaving Vespiquen is easily quelled by smoke, which forces it into a resting, semi-conscious state.
CourtingWhenever a Combee is hatched in a hive, the elder Vespiquen will mate with it regardless of its gender and pass it around its apprentices. The same happens if a Combee is captured by the Combee that are already part of the hive; it is in fact this process that changes a Combee's hive scent, and the mating is only a side effect.. A Vespiquen can lay up to a thousand eggs a day, which remain in the Vespiquen's dress honeycombs until they either hatch normally or are prehatched by the Vespiquen; prehatched Combee will tend to the eggs for as long as they can before dying.
In Human SocietyCombee honey has long been considered a valuable food and sauce in the world, being one of Sinnoh's primary exports and a common ingredient in both human food and pokemon snacks. Some people even keep artificial hives or friendly relations with nearby hives, one of the most famous being the Floaroma Meadow Honey Company. As such, Combee have been part of human culture for a long time. Most portrayals of Combee in fiction have them as devoted laborers, happy in their work, and held up in many societies as an example to all laborers. More cynical works, however, have them as the mindless brainwashed servants of the Vespiquen, whose dangerous abilities and cannibalistic tendencies lead to them often being seen as some sort of tyrant over the hive. Still, most people leave the Combee hives alone, and will even throw flowers at an exiled Vespiquen's swarm if it passes through their town.
Written by Masterweaver