Follow TV Tropes


Stock Beehive

Go To
Not pictured: Marge Simpson.
A beehive in fiction is going to look like a bunch of golden stacked donuts with a little hole in the bottom or side, right? Because that's what beehives look like, right? But, wait, aren't they just made up of honeycombs?

Whenever a beehive appears either in cartoon or a video game — or even in live-action works sometimes — it's always guaranteed to look a bit like a wasp nest, usually the type most Americans are more familiar with: that of a bald-faced hornet. However, these nests are grey and flaky, which can be hard to animate and just plain unsuitable for a story. As such, Stock Hives may actually look more like a mix of different bee and wasp species' hives.

Another aspect of the artistic license is that wasp nests are a greyish, light-brown colour, whereas fictional beehives seem to be as golden as the honey stored inside. Additionally, honey is often depicted as being stored in the hive like water in a jug, instead of small drops being packed inside individual cells in a honeycomb — as such, characters may be able to simply pour large quantities of honey directly out of the hive, or drink from it like they would from a bottle. Honey drops may also fall from the entrance just like a water drop from a dripping tap. A bees' honeycomb is definitely golden in most circumstances,note  but won't actually leak unless you’re physically touching it.

Confusing things further, domestic beehives ("skeps") prior to the invention of the moveable comb hive in the 19th century did look a bit like this, being dome-shaped structures made of (yellow) straw, although they weren't suspended from trees.

Similarly to Chekhov's Volcano, it's almost certain the bees will come out from the hole and chase the character carrying the Idiot Ball and, obviously, their honey. (Usually, this is the Butt-Monkey, villains and/or gluttonous characters.)

Keep in mind this behaviour is anything but true in nature; most honey bees (except for africanized hybrids, a.k.a. "killer bees") will defend their hive only in desperate situations. Instead, stinging the intruder to death is a key behaviour of larger eusocial insects, such as wasps and hornets. Moreover, beehives tend to be curtain-like structures in the real world. Bees start making their honeycombs from a branch and the completed hive would look like a curtain made out from wax, either perfectly straight and flat or wrapping around a branch like a spiral.

Before the actual chase, many of the designated victims get their head stuck into the hive; another reason the animators tend to move the entrance to its bottom.

Almost always the ultimate source of Scary Stinging Swarms. Generally averted in movies and non-Disney comics. Partly caused by Small Reference Pools (it's quite hard to find a wild beehive nowadays) and justified in older works by the Grandfather Clause.


    open/close all folders 

    Films — Animated 
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh started as an aversion of this trope, as the only beehive seen there (such as in Winnie the Pooh and the honey tree) are inside hollows in trees, which is in keeping with how real honeybees build their hives. Other incarnations of the franchise, such as The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Winnie the Pooh (2011), play it straight. While in the animated series beehives are as brown and egg-shaped as a large wasp nest, movies tend to shorten its length, put the entrance below and lighten its outer shell. Because of the sheer popularity of the franchise, it can be clearly considered the Trope Codifier.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Song of the South: Br'er Rabbit finds a grey one hidden in a bush. He tricks Br'er Bear inside saying that it's his "laughing place". Bear gets the hive stuck on his nose.
  • In My Girl, the "beehive" that Thomas and Vada knock down, and Thomas later gets stung to death by, is clearly a nest of bald-faced hornets or aerial yellow jackets, though the bugs were portrayed by real live honeybees.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Concentration: Rebuses uses this design whenever the sound of "hive" is needed, not only on the actual show, but also in Milton Bradley's home games.
  • Lost: The first season's sixth episode, "House of the Rising Sun", has a few key characters dealing with a MASSIVE, paper-made underground beehive. It looks more like a dome-shaped, hollow mushroom rather than your stereotypical beehive, but it's clearly different from real world beehives nonetheless.

    Video Games 
  • Animal Crossing: Many games feature this due to a translation error. If you shake a tree, something resembling a paper wasp nest may fall out; immediately after it hits the ground, you get attacked by the "bees" living inside, which resemble wasps. This is because they are wasps, but the word used to refer to them in Japanese ("hachi") can refer to both bees and wasps, and the English localizers made an incorrect guess as to which meaning was correct. Animal Crossing: New Horizons eventually averts this, by correctly referring to the insects as wasps and the nests as wasp nests (though wasp nests can be used to craft bee-themed items such as beehives and honeycomb wallpaper... somehow).
  • In APICO, both the beehives you can build and the ones you find in the wild look like wasp nests.
  • Banjo-Kazooie: Averted by the regular beehives (which are shaped like a Langstroth hive — aka, a "bee box", an artificial hive used by beekeepers), but played straight by the Zubba Nest in Click Clock Wood. Weirdly, the Zubbas look more like hornets or wasps, but their hive is full of honey.
  • BioShock: Zigzagged with the Apiary, where the domestic beehives are of the modern "super" style, but the feral hives have hornet's nest-style horizontal combs.
  • Bug Fables: The Bee Kingdom Hive resembles the yellow skep hanging on a tree brench. Averted with the Wasp Kingdom Hive, which looks exactly like what a wasp nest would look like.
  • Bugdom: The bee hive featured in level 5 has the standard "stacked rings with a hole in one side" (plus a porch under said hole) appearance, and serves as the "boss" of the level (once it's blasted enough, it catches on fire, ending the level).
  • Don't Starve: Beehives resemble a wasp nest crossed with an old style of artificial beehive called a skep. Interestingly, Killer Bee Hives are of a different appearance but are referred as Wasp Hives in the in-game files, implying that Killer Bees were originally meant to be wasps.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: Beehives look exactly like wasp nests, even down to the grey colour.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Round, ovoid beehives appear in several games, but the most common forms of beehives in the game is a round fan of hexagonal cells hanging from a stem, which resembles small wasp nests far more than anything bees normally make.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: As part of the game's Chain of Deals, Link has to get Tarin to knock a honeycomb out of a tree in order to trade to a chef bear. The honeycomb in question looks mostly like a wasp's nest, consisting of seven downward-pointing cells arranged in a hexagonal pattern and hanging from a thin stem.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Beehives, minus the bees, can be found at various points in the game. They're spherical and brown, and covered with hexagonal cells on their undersides.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask: The brown beehives from Ocarina of Time make a return, and this time they are populated by stingy bees. Notably, one such beehive can be sneakily dropped onto a group of Gerudos in their Fortress to drive them away.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has an odd example. Link can knock round, papery hives from trees and retrieve bee larvae to use as bait... but the adults are specifically identified as hornets.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Beehives resembling stout yellow cones with their flat surfaces dotted with cells can be found hanging on trees throughout the game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: Beehives are ovoid objects composed of overlapping scale-like plates, and with multiple small holes for their inhabits to enter and leave through. Notably, their inhabitants are once again referred to as hornets.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: Courser bees inhabit small circular hives consisting of several hexagonal cells, filled with either honey or white larvae, and hanging upside-down from tree branches by a small stem.
  • Minecraft:
    • The 1.15 update adds bees along with their hives, which look like cubical versions of this trope and leak honey from their openings when ready to harvest.
    • In the Game Mod Growthcraft, bees are originally acquired from hives that look like yellowish globes dangling from tree foliage.
  • Pokémon: Vespiquen plays with this trope. Although she's a giant bee-wasp hybrid, her abdomen is shaped like a wasp hive and contains a small pattern of hexagonal cells.
  • Royal Envoy 2 and Royal Envoy: Campaign for the Crown have wild beehives depicted as a pineapple-shaped stack of alternating yellow and dark rings, with the hole at the bottom and the branch also at the bottom (to allow them to be placed anywhere on the scene). The bees fly over nearby building sites, rendering them inhospitable to homeowners (and lowering the happiness score). One task on some levels is to build a proper hive for the bees (tiny house-like structures with smooth walls and a roof) and thereby domesticate them.
  • Terraria has giant hives deep underground in the jungle that resembles Wasp Nests. Usually forming giant hive with honeycomb patterns and honey, as well as a Queen Bee Optional Boss.
  • In Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair, the stinging insects in Round 4 are clearly bees, but their hive, which serves as the first phase of the round's Boss Battle, is designed after a paper wasp nest.

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long episode "Dragon Summit", Fred drops one on Jake's head as he's practicing for his firebreathing test in retaliation for Jake humiliating him earlier.
  • Aqua Teen Hunger Force:
    • In "Dumber Days", Shake attempts shoving one into Meatwad by claiming it's a replacement brain for him.
    • In "Party All the Time", thinking that his hands need an enlargement, Shake stuffs them into a beehive as dozens attack him before losing consciousness.
  • Craig of the Creek: In "The Climb", a swarm of wasps on Mt. Sycamore are shown living in one, which is designed to resemble an actual wasp nest.
  • DuckTales (2017): In one episode, Violet drops a standard beehive on a bear to drive it off.
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "Take a Hike", Nutty finds a rare purple-colored variety when spilling honey hits his forehead.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: In "Explosion Berries", the bees' nest that Wolf accidentally knocks down is the classic stack of yellow donuts tapering at both ends.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • One such beehive was a decoration of Twilight's Arboreal Abode, hanging from one of the tree's branches by three short stalks anchored to the same spot of wood. It was composed of five stacked rings and narrowed going downwards, with a single opening at its bottom. It was a regular feature of shots of Twilight's home up until the latter got blown up by Tirek in the Season 4 finale.
    • "Winter Wrap Up" sees Twilight Sparkle dislodging one such beehive when she runs into a tree after getting startled by a flock of bats, which promptly lodges itself on her head.
    • "Apple Family Reunion": Pinkie Pie gives Applejack an order of honey by pouring it directly out of the bottom of a bright yellow ring-stack beehive.
    • "It Ain't Easy Being Breezies": Seabreeze crashes into a beehive during his ill-fated attempt at facing the outside world by itself. Like most of the show's beehives, it is composed of a series of fat doughnut shapes stacked atop each other, thickened in the middle, tapering at its ends and attached to a branch by a short stalk. Somewhat unusually, however, it's brown rather than yellow, and doesn't seem to have a dedicated entrance hole — Seabreeze simply made a hole in its side when he crashed into it. Its inside is hollow and lined with honeycombs along the walls, each home to an adult bee rather than honey or a larva or egg, as would be the case in real life.
    • "A Health of Information": The flash bees' hive resembles five yellow donuts stacked on top of each other, thin at the top and bottom and fat in the middle. It hangs from some unseen point in its tree's canopy by a long, vine-like stalk. Its opening is on the "donut" in the middle, and for some reason it's shaped like a cloud. It's hollow on the inside, and doesn't actually have honeycombs — just faint hexagonal markings on its walls — so it's a bit unclear where the copious quantities of honey Meadowbrook and Fluttershy extracted from it were actually kept.
    • "Daring Doubt": A swarm of flyders — spiders with insect wings — appears inhabiting a grey variant of the classic donut-stack beehive with a single large opening in its middle, albeit draped with spiderwebs.
  • Averted in the The Penguins of Madagascar episode Sting Operation where the hornet’s nest is accurate to Real Life hornet’s nest’s.
  • Pluto the Pup: Pluto plays with one in Springtime for Pluto as if it were a ball. Not soon after that he has to deal with the bees living inside.
  • An episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle for one "Peabody's Improbable History" segment has Mr. Peabody drop a beehive onto Prince John's head. Although the beehive is of the stock cartoon type, it avoids the usual trope of the bottom entrance engulfing the victim's head, as Mr. Peabody turns it upside-down before dropping it.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Jellyfish live in stock hives full of jelly. As with everything in the show, it falls under Rule of Funny.
  • In one episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), The Turtles manage to beat the powered-up Baxter Stockman by shoving a hive right into his armor's face slot, resulting in bees stinging him in the face.
  • We Bare Bears: The bees in the episode "Beehive" initially live in a stock bee's nest.
  • Roy Brisby, creator of Bizzy Bee in The Venture Brothers, built a giant one as part of a theme park, an Expy of EPCOT.

    Real Life 
  • An artificial beehive looking very similar to a wasp nest was used until the 20th century on many farms. It was known as skep, a basket placed open-end down, which had been used for about 2,000 years. Unfortunately, they were risky to use and the honey removal procedure often resulted in massive colony losses. However, the widespread use of the skep no doubt contributed to the ubiquity of this trope.
  • There are some novelty beehives that have this look, though the entrances are mostly moved on the side. These are mostly used to attract a wild bee colony so they will assist with pollination rather than to make honey. The shape is useful here as this trope is so ubiquitous that most people will know to stay away from it.
  • The State Seal of Utah (which also appears on the State Flag) has one of these, though it's placed on a low table rather than hanging from a tree.


Video Example(s):


Paragoomba and the bees

One of Hat Goomba's pranks include him casting a spell on a beehive in a tree under where Paragoomba is sleeping.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / ScaryStingingSwarm

Media sources: