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Virtuous Bees

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Bees portrayed as benevolent, hardworking and generally pleasant creatures.

This trope has been Launched!
Proposed By:
Theriocephalus on Aug 6th 2018 at 1:54:34 PM
Last Edited By:
Theriocephalus on yesterday
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Bees are among the few arthropods to enjoy consistently positive portrayals in fiction: for centuries, bees have been associated with hard work, community, self-sacrifice (as most bees die when they sting, it's easy to frame their attacks as the bees selflessly giving everything to protect their hives and sisters) and other virtues associated with productivity and communal life. They also make honey and pollinate flowers, which does a fair bit to ingratiate them to human society.

Bees can be, and are, also portrayed as aggressive, territorial and quick to sting in anger — but even then, depending on the exact motivations and behavior of the stingers and the stingees, it's entirely possible for the angry swarm to end up being the sympathetic party. The only bees consistently portrayed as vicious and hostile are the infamous Africanized bees, due to them being an extremely invasive, dangerous pest species in the Americas, their aggressiveness and the lengths to which they will pursue intruders.

Since Tropes Are Flexible, this trope can extend beyond actual real life bees — fictional bee-like creatures, bee-based Animal Themed Superbeings, and non-bee characters strongly associated with these insects are all fair game, provided their nature as or association with bees is closely enough linked to their heroic or virtuous nature.

Contrast Wicked Wasps, with which Virtuous Bees are often in conflict, and Bee Afraid for more aggressive portrayals of swarming insects. Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes.


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    Advertisements 
  • The Honey Nut Cheerios bee, Buzz, is a pleasant character who makes honey for the cereal and works hard so people can have a balanced breakfast.

    Film — Animation 
  • In the Bee Movie, bees are viewed as hard workers who work themselves ridiculously hard and don't deserve to have their honey stolen by humanity.

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • In the short story "The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees", the titular bees are a sympathetic, heroic people struggling under the smothering rule of imperialistic wasps. The latter part of the story follows the efforts of multiple generations of bees seeking to free their people from wasp rule; as the bees don't live very long — much less than the wasps — each carefully plans for the future, lying down seeds of dissent and inspiration for future generations to find and use to win their freedom, even though they themselves never live to see these efforts come to fruit.
  • Maya the Bee: Bees, especially the titular Maya and her friend Wily, are the main heroic characters of the work. The bees are not entirely good — they are rather traditionalist and hidebound, best seen when they exile Maya for breaking the rule against leaving the hive, but they're still shows as a largely benevolent group. This is especially emphasized in the anime series, which drops the exile angle altogether.
  • Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous heroic detective, is a hobbyist beekeeper; at the end of his career, he retires to keep bees in the Sussex Downs.

    Video Games 
  • Banjo-Kazooie: In Banjo-Tooie and Banjo-Kazooie: Grunty's Revenge, Banjo and Kazooie meet Honey B, Mistress of the Honey. When they collect enough empty honeycombs, they can trade them to her for extensions to their life bar.
  • Jeremiah Fink from BioShock Infinite has a great fondness for bees, or so he claims in the propaganda he broadcasts to motivate his workers:
    Jeremiah Fink: What is the most admirable creature on God's green Earth? Why, it's the bee! Have you ever seen a bee on vacation? Have you ever seen a bee take a sick day? Well, my friends, the answer is no! So I say, be...the bee! Be the bee!
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day:
    • One of the game's quests sees Conker helping a sympathetic queen bee who is being terrorized by a group of evil wasps who stole her hive away.
    • In the "Barn Boys" chapter, Conker encounters swarms of bees who are pacifists, and would rather tickle people than sting them. Conker needs to gather enough of them to tickle the Big-breasted Sunflower so that their king can pollinate her, then he can bounce on her breasts to get the money on the ledge above her.
  • King's Quest V has King Graham rescue a hive of bees from a hungry bear. The hive's queen, Beatrice, gives him sincere thanks and allows him a piece of honeycomb.
  • Charmy Bee from Sonic the Hedgehog is a bee who works for the Chaotix detective agency. In Sonic Heroes, he serves as Team Chaotix's flight member, is able to carry Espio and Vector into the air despite his small size, and he can use his stinger to open mechanical flowers that transport them to other areas.
  • Super Mario Galaxy: The Honeyhive Galaxy is inhabited by a race of friendly bees and the Honey Queen, the galaxy's benevolent queen bee.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Napoleon Bonaparte used bees as a symbol of hard work and productiveness.
  • The worker bee is the symbol of Manchester, because of its industrial history, and so is often used to represent the city's fortitude.

Feedback: 16 replies

Aug 6th 2018 at 2:10:07 PM

  • Jeremiah Fink from BioShock Infinite has a great fondness for bees, or so he claims in the propaganda he broadcasts to motivate his workers:
    Jeremiah Fink: What is the most admirable creature on God's green Earth? Why, it's the bee! Have you ever seen a bee on vacation? Have you ever seen a bee take a sick day? Well, my friends, the answer is no! So I say, be...the bee! Be the bee!

Aug 6th 2018 at 5:31:44 PM

Video Games

  • Another Conkers Bad Fur Day example: In the "Barn Boys" chapter, Conker encounters swarms of bees who are pacifists, and would rather tickle people than sting them. Conker needs to gather enough of them to tickle the Big-breasted Sunflower so that their king can pollinate her, then he can bounce on her breasts to get the money on the ledge above her.
  • Charmy Bee from Sonic The Hedgehog is a bee who works for the Chaotix detective agency. In Sonic Heroes, he serves as Team Chaotix's flight member, is able to carry Espio and Vector into the air despite his small size, and he can use his stinger to open mechanical flowers that transport them to other areas.

Aug 6th 2018 at 6:07:44 PM

  • The Honey Nut Cheerios bee, Buzz, is a pleasant character who makes honey for the cereal and works hard so people can have a balanced breakfast.

Aug 6th 2018 at 6:37:49 PM

Contrast Bee Afraid.

Hmm, Animal Tropes have historically had a problem of often just being "this animal exists". There are plenty of valid ones, though, and I think this is one of them. As explained in the description, bees are among the few commonly positively portrayed arthropods, and are frequently depicted as being hardworking (much like beavers).

Aug 6th 2018 at 8:38:09 PM

In The Bee Movie, bees are viewed as hard workers who work themselves ridiculously hard and don't deserve to have their honey stolen by humanity.

Aug 7th 2018 at 10:38:28 AM

Real Life: Napoleon Bonaparte used bees as a symbol of hard work and productiveness.

Aug 8th 2018 at 3:21:20 PM

  • Super Mario Galaxy: The Honeyhive Galaxy is inhabited by a race of friendly bees and the Honey Queen, the galaxy's benevolent queen bee. Mario himself can get a Bee suit that lets him fly, and crawl on certain surfaces.

Aug 8th 2018 at 4:36:23 PM

  • Kings Quest V has King Graham rescue a hive of bees from a hungry bear. The hive's queen, Beatrice gives him sincere thanks and allows him a piece of honeycomb.

Aug 8th 2018 at 5:23:45 PM

Video Games

  • Banjo Kazooie:
    • In the original game, in Click Clock Wood, Mumbo can turn Banjo into a bee. While this transformation only works in the spring season, Banjo is able to fly infinitely and the Snarebear enemies do not attack him, allowing him to collect the items they are guarding. He is also able to enter the Zubbas' hive in Spring this way. The transformation returns in Banjo-Tooie, in Cloudcuckooland. This time around, it's Humba who turns Banjo into a bee. Banjo now has the ability to shoot stingers, allowing him to attack enemies, which is essential in the "Zubba's Nest Challenge" mini-game.
    • In Banjo-Tooie and Banjo Kazooie Gruntys Revenge, Banjo and Kazooie meet Honey B, Mistress of the Honey. When they collect enough empty honeycombs, they can trade them to her for extensions to their life bar.

Aug 8th 2018 at 11:34:10 PM

Aug 10th 2018 at 11:36:54 AM

Spoofed by Terry Pratchett in the Discworld with his creation of the Republican Bees, a more militant hive-creature who over-threw their monarchy as an outdated and oppressive concept, and who tend to spend their time debating democracy in ever more intricate quorate voting dances, or else to sit around inside the hive, voting themselves more honey. Terry notes that this bee species is a truly endangered one on the Disc.

Aug 12th 2018 at 7:27:46 PM

^ Unless they're portrayed as good, pleasant, virtuous or the like, I don't think that that's an example.


Anything else to do here, or does this look launchworthy?

yesterday

Right. If no-one else has anything left to say, I'll launch this in the morning.

yesterday

The worker bee is the symbol of Manchester, because of its industrial history, and so is often used to represent the city's fortitude.

yesterday

I think you missed a chance to call this trope Benevolent Bees or Beneficial Bees. :D

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