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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

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 honeybees die when they sting, it's easy to frame their attacks as the bees selflessly giving everything to protect their hives and sisters; other bee species like bumblebees can sting an unlimited number of times like wasps can) 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.

Compare Amicable Ants, another social arthropod that is often depicted as friendly for many of the same reasons, and Pretty Butterflies, which may not be industrious, but are still just as friendly. Contrast Wicked Wasps, with which Virtuous Bees are often in conflict, Bee Afraid for more aggressive portrayals of bees, and Scary Stinging Swarm for aggressive swarming insects in general. Subtrope of Animal Stereotypes.


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  • 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.
  • The eponymous mascot of the Filipino fast food restaurant chain, Jollibee, is a red bee wearing a chef's hat who is meant to epitomize Filipino optimism.

    Anime & 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.
  • Maya the Bee is a very cute story about a bee and her friends.

    Comic Books 
  • Clan Apis: Nyuki is an adorable worker bee. Her mentor, Dvorah, also fits this trope.
  • The Red Bee is a superhero (actually, two superheroes) with a bee motif. Also qualifying for this trope are the original Red Bee's trained bees, which aided him in his crimefighting endeavours by attacking evildoers.

     Fan Works 
  • I Woke Up As a Dungeon, Now What?: Bees are one of Taylor's least dangerous minions, being generally peaceful unless you attack them or mess with their hive rooms. They also produce useful honey and wax.

    Films — 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.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • "Against Idleness and Mischief", a 1715 moralistic poem by Isaac Watts, praises "the little busy bee" as a role model for working hard all day. Only remembered today because Lewis Carroll mercilessly mocked it in "How Doth the Little Crocodile."
  • Black House: Due to his adventures in The Talisman, Jack is able to call upon bees to come to his aid. When he, Dale, Beezer and Doc break into the eponymous Black House, a massive swarm of bees comes to his aid.
  • The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper's Feast: Lizzie Bee is portrayed as an industrious and cheerful worker who only takes a single day off (to attend the Ball, of course).
  • "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.
  • The Georgics: The first half of Book IV is spent explaining how wondrous and special bees are for their skillful creation of honey and incredible organization.
  • The History of Bees: Characters devote their lives to the study and exploitation of bees. The future section of the book paints a miserable world without bees to really hammer home how great bees are.
  • Maya the Bee: Bees, especially the titular Maya and her friend Wily (created for the anime), 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.
  • Petal Storm: The (B)ees are a diligent, cultured race. Unfortunately, their royal family has turned these talents towards demagoguery and infighting.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Bees have historically been seen as virtuous creatures associated with bridging the gaps between the living world and the afterlife, and in European culture, telling the bees was a necessary ritual to keep them alive and content enough to produce honey.
  • African folklore tells of a bee carrying a mantis across a river despite its own exhaustion, leaving a seed behind after death that sprouted into the first human.
  • In Islam, it is said that God directly guides bees to congregate and build colonies, as well as producing secretion (i.e., honey) that becomes a nourishment for humans. Bees are the namesake of the 16th chapter of The Qur'an, An-Nahl.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Unofficial Hollow Knight RPG: The Apidaen Union ruled Oakshade long ago, before they were ousted by the Vespine Authority. Not much detail is given on them, but they're described as being deeply spiritual, approached their subjects on more equal footing than the wasps, and despite having an Insect Queen they were actually a representative democracy where the queen only served as a temporary leader in times of crisis, all of which paints them in a very positive light.

  • In Orpheus: A Poetic Drama, Aristaeus's bees, and others like them, can penetrate the gates of Elysium to pollinate the flowers, bringing life back to the dead and wisdom of the dead back to the living world.


    Video Games 
  • In APICO, There are many non-aggressive bee species, but Industrial Bees are the most productive ones, having evolved to become more hardworking by being near Honeycore technology.
  • 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.
  • Beeny stars a round little bee whose mission is to gather honey for her friend Kiwi. Not only is Beeny a friendly protagonist, she also receives some help from other unnamed bees who either save her from falling too far, or give her a lift to higher areas.
  • BioShock Infinite: Jeremiah Fink has a great fondness for bees and their untiring, uncomplaining attitude towards work, 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!
  • Buck Bumble: One of the few games where you can actually play as a bee is the obscure N64 title. In fact, he's not just a bee, but a partially robotic one who can pick up some really cool guns. He's so awesome that he even has his own catchy rap song!
  • Bug Fables: The Bee Kingdom is a Double Subversion. Vi (who herself is an example), was bullied and harassed by the other bees for wanting to be an explorer bug rather than work to make more honey, and ran away. When she returns with the other two members of her exploration team however, Queen Bianca welcomes her back with open arms and expresses pride that her daughter became so strong. It takes a bit longer for the other workers (particularly her sister, Jaune) to come around though.
  • 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.
  • Milon's Secret Castle: The Hudson bee appears as an ally to give you a forcefield to protect you.
  • 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.
  • Terra Nil: Beehives can be placed in trees to convert nearby grassland into a Fynbos. Without the flower fields they create it's impossible to progress into the game.

    Western Animation 
  • Boo Boom! The Long Way Home: One of the heroes is a honeybee named B-17.
  • The Hive is an entire animated series in which all of the main characters are bees living in a bee society.
  • Maya the Bee: All the heroes/good guys are honeybees, and they and their world are extremely lovable and cute.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The bee miraculous and associated kwami Pollen, who are meant to be a force for good by empowering bee-themed heroes. Their most recent partner is... perhaps less than virtuous, but she's started moving in this direction since becoming Queen Bee.
  • Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends has a number of bee characters, which are all portrayed as virtuous. The most notable is Beetrice, the queen bee, who is good friends with Miss Spider.
  • 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 
  • NapolĂ©on 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".
  • United States Naval Construction Battalions are called 'Seabees' after their initials. They are famed for their "can do" attitude and flexibility and bees are a prominent part of their unit insignias.