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Virtuous Bees

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"Bees are your basic striped nectar-gathering fellows, and I've never met a bad one. They're very social, to the point that you get the feeling they'd talk your ear off if they could. They work hard and they play hard, enjoy dancing and drinking nectar, and their motto seems to be "Live and Let Live", even it does just sound like "Bzzz bz buzzzz buzz". Yes, they will sting, if you step on them or slap them or attempt to drink them with a swallow of Tahitian Treat, but it brings them no pleasure. In fact, they're so committed to their peaceful ways, they have an if-I-sting-you-I-die-too policy."
Mike Nelson's Mind Over Matters
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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.

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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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Examples

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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.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Digimon: FunBeemon are described as cheerful and dedicated workers devoted to the furthering of their beehive, the Royal Base, even while belonging to the Virus attribute (note that they're considered Viruses because they consume data for the sake of the hive, not because they're inherently evil). When they evolve, they become fierce protectors of their hives.

     Comic Books 
  • Clan Apis: Nyuki is an adorable worker bee. Her mentor, Dvorah, also fits this trope.

    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 
  • The 1715 moralistic poem "Against Idleness and Mischief" by Isaac Watts praises "the little busy bee" as a role model for working hard all day.
  • 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Charmy Bee, 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 
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: One of the heroes is a honeybee named B-17.
  • Maya the Bee: All the heroes/good guys are honeybees
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The bee miraculous, which is meant to be used for good.
  • Tumble Leaf: The bees are friendly. The heroes' obstacle when trying to get honey from Hive Hollow was not the bees, but the snapping flowers outside the beehives.

    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.
  • Utah is the Beehive State, and correspondingly, its state motto is "Industry".

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