Problems with Today’s Bee Fandom
First of all, everyone wants to be a queen. Nobody wants to be workers or drones. That’s not how it’s supposed to work now, is it? Last time I was at BeeCon, I saw maybe fifty or sixty queens walking around, a few sad drones following them, and no workers in sight. I don’t need to explain why this isn’t right. When we started the bee fandom, you went from egg to larva to pupa like any other bee. You established yourself and worked for the good of your colony before you’d even think once about starting your own.
Now people just want to skip all of that. I see a post on beehive forums almost every day that goes something like this: “Hi, all, I’m new to this site and this is my first post! Anyway, I’m a queen in search of drones. Send pictures and I’ll consider you!” Do you really think you can just show up and declare yourself a queen? In the BEE FANDOM? I’m not saying you shouldn’t want to be a queen. It’s the sense of ENTITLEMENT that rubs me the wrong way.
Oh, and don’t tell me your workers and drones are all headcanon. You haven’t earned it.
On top of this, what few workers and drones there are today just aren’t very interesting. I’m sorry, but if you tell me your original bee is Worker #4530, that you were born on the colony, that you fly around and find flowers to gather pollen from, etc. etc.? I’m going to judge. Why not put some more thought into it? Why are you Worker #4530 and not #4529 or #4531? What’s your angle that’s different from any other worker? Did you get enough royal jelly as a larva? Is your thorax unusually large? Get creative.
Then there’s the fan fiction that pops up everywhere these days. I love good bee stories: stories about drones in search of a virgin queen, workers teaming up to find new flowers or chase away humans. Now it’s all weird stuff, like bee-wasp ships. Why? Why is that all the rage? I’m not mad; I just don’t get it. Bees and wasps are natural enemies and have fought each other for literally millions of years. I mean, whatever. It’s fine, I guess, if that’s what you want to do. You want to explore the territory. It feels transgressive, the whole idea of “what if bees and wasps got along?” Well, fine, explore that. Just don’t burden the rest of us, who are trying to take bees seriously here, with it. And don’t pretend it’s natural behavior either. Remember, the whole reason bee fan fiction exists is because we are FANS of BEES.
If you’re going to participate in bee fandom, then at least make a good faith effort to avoid getting even the most simple facts about bees wrong. I see mistakes time and again in character descriptions, stories, art. Worse, I see the same mistakes over and over. Learn basic bee anatomy before trying to draw or making your costume. If I never have to see another bee depicted with pollen on its head, it won’t be a moment too soon. The pollen goes on your legs. READ ABOUT BEES. Don’t make up a dance and call that your bee dance. Learn the steps we developed after studying real bees. Absorb the basics and then you can add your own personal flair if you want. Up to a point.
Look, I’m not some reactionary who’s against progress. I’m very forward-thinking in a lot of ways. It’s just that today people are making up whatever they want and calling themselves bees. At its root, it’s a question of selfishness. Do you want bee fandom to survive and grow or do you want to tear it apart? Keeping in mind that the whole POINT of bees is that they work together in perfect, lock-step harmony. And if we can’t have that, then where are we as people who call themselves bees?
Art by Merry Calliope